Summer is known as a joyous time, filled less with work and school, and more with relaxation and vacation. But behind the leisurely veneer lurks a serious threat on the roadways: There is a sharp increase in automobile fatalities involving teen drivers from Memorial Day to Labor Day, leading experts to refer to this time of the year as the 100 Deadliest Days.
It’s easy to chalk up the increase to the fact that more teens are driving for longer periods in the summer since schools are out and they have more free time. But it’s really the driving behavior that greatly increases the risk of a crash. “We know that when teens are joyriding as opposed to driving with a specific destination and time in mind, there is a heightened risk,” said Diana Gugliotta, Senior Manager of Public Affairs for AAA Northeast.
Another major risk factor is the number and ages of the other passengers in the teen-driven car. “Research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people increased 51%,” Gugliotta said. “In contrast, when older passengers (35 or older) ride with a teen driver, overall fatality rates in crashes decreased 8%.”
Teen Driving Statistics
- In 2018, there were 1,719 young drivers who died and an estimated 199,000 young drivers who were injured in motor vehicle crashes.
- 8% of all drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2018 were 15 to 20 years old, yet young drivers accounted for only 5.3% of the total number of licensed drivers in the United States in 2018.
- The rate of drivers involved in fatal crashes per 100,000 licensed drivers for young female drivers was 22.65 in 2018.
- For young male drivers in 2018 the involvement rate was 46.08, more than 2 times that of young female drivers.
- Of the young drivers killed with known restraint use, 49% were unrestrained at the time of the crashes in 2018.
- 24% of young drivers 15 to 20 years old who were killed in crashes in 2018 had blood alcohol concentrations of .01 g/dL or higher; 82% of those young drivers killed who had alcohol in their systems also had BACs of .08 g/dL or higher.
Parents should set very specific household rules with their teen drivers. AAA offers a parent/teen driving contract, which you can find at AAA.com/DeadliestDays, to help guide the process. The website also contains state-specific information on graduated driver licensing laws and passenger restrictions.
Many states have passenger restrictions for teen drivers, and parents should educate themselves on these laws and stress compliance with their teens. Gugliotta recommends going even further.
“Parents should consider setting driving limits that are stronger than a state’s law, and enforce those limits, especially for the summer driving season.”
Find more safe driving tips for your teenage motorist during the 100 Deadliest Days at AAA.com/DeadliestDays.