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The Summer of Safety Is Here

Summer is known as a joyous time, with less work and school and more 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, also referred to 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.

“For many teen drivers, summer brings more free time with friends and plenty of potential distractions, such as phone use and multiple teen passengers – all of which increase their crash risk,” said Mark Schieldrop, senior spokesperson for AAA Northeast. “Any time is the right time for parents and caregivers to talk with their teens about risky driving behaviors, the importance of continued driving practice to develop their skills and the many reasons they have to stay safe on the road this summer and beyond.”

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Another major risk factor is the number and ages of passengers in teen-driven cars. 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%. In contrast, when older passengers (35 or older) ride with a teen driver, overall fatality rates in crashes decreased 8%.

According to the AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, risky driving behaviors like speeding, texting and running red lights are top contributors to unsafe driving among teens. To counteract the dangerous summertime trend for young drivers, AAA Northeast is encouraging teens to identify their reasons to drive safely this summer.

At the AAA Northeast Teen Safety Summit held in May in Garden City, New York, high school students shared what’s driving them to practice safe habits on the road this summer. At the top of their lists were family and friends, walking across the stage at high school graduation and achieving life goals.

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Teen Driving Statistics

Nationwide, 7,435 people died in teen driver-related summertime crashes nationwide from 2013 to 2022. And in 2022 alone, 790 people were killed in these types of crashes – a 10% increase over pre-pandemic 2019. In 2021 alone, 900 people were killed in these types of crashes, a 6% increase from the previous year and a 25% increase over pre-pandemic 2019.

Narrowing in on the last two years of available data from the National Highway and Traffic Association, both the number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes and the number of people killed in those crashes increased from 2021 to 2022.

Parents’ Roles

As many families look to get their teens licensed this summer, AAA offers helpful tips for choosing a high-quality driving school:

  • Choose a school, like the AAA Driver Training School, that is a member of a professional association. This indicates that the school cares about the driver instruction profession and is staying up to date on the latest safety trends. Relevant associations include national associations, such as The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association and The Driving School Association of the Americas, as well as state- and regional-level associations.
  • Find a school that uses a curriculum that meets the national standards for curriculum content and includes modern topics, including: advanced vehicle technology, such as rear cross traffic alert and lane-keeping assist; sharing the road with vulnerable road users, such as cyclists, pedestrians and motorcycles; Slow Down, Move Over laws.
  • Take advantage of parent sessions hosted by driving schools, which will provide you with current information about your role, both as a driving coach during practice and as the manager of your teen’s driving when they start to drive on their own.
  • The impact of cannabis on driving abilities. 

When Your Teen Is Licensed, the Real Work Begins

As more drivers take to the road this summer, it’s an excellent time for parents to model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them. Parents and caregivers of young drivers should talk with their teens early and often about abstaining from behaviors such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.

Parents also should set very specific household rules with their teen drivers. AAA offers a parent/teen driving contract to help guide the process.

Many states have passenger restrictions for teen drivers, and parents should educate themselves on these laws and stress compliance with their teens. AAA 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.

AAA reminds parents and teens to:

  • Always buckle up.
  • Never drive impaired.
  • Put your phone away and focus on the task of driving.
  • Follow posted speed limits.

Find more safe summer driving tips for your teenage motorist at AAA.com/DestinationSafety

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15 Thoughts on “The Summer of Safety Is Here

  1. Children learn through watching role models, instruction, or trial and error. Perhaps driver education needs to be a required free course in school. This would ensure Instruction is available and affordable. It could save lives/ injuries of anyone on the road; not just the driver. Automobile insurance companies give discounts to drivers who attend Driver Safety Courses because it results in less insurance claims. Education is a Win Win Situation.

  2. 15 even 16 is too young to drive. The driving age should be changed to a minimum of 18. Many may not agree with me but all things considered it makes sense.

    1. I am in total agreement with the notion that the age of 16 is way too young to get a drivers’ license. The age of 16 is still a very wobbly, unstable age, and raising the license age to 18, or even 17 would be a far better way to go.

    2. Driving at sixteen years old, was WAY safer before cellphones. Look into those statistics. Driving at any age before cellphones was WAY safer before cellphones. Check those facts.

  3. Thank you for the article and the sad statistics. Unfortunately, inexperience and bravado make teen drivers much more likely to be involved in accidents.

    1. After 32 years in law enforcement, 8 years in local enforcement, and 24 years state trooper responding to many, many horrific motor vehicle accidents I believe I have enough experience to comment on this issue. First, students in all schools should be taught drivers safety beginning in the seventh grade for at least 1 hour per week ‘mandatory’. Hopefully this ongoing training will instill in each of them how serious and dangerous driving is today. Operating a motor vehicle in present times is more dangerous now than when I began to drive in 1966. Furthermore, every student should have to observe mangled, severed limbs, severed heads and charcoal burnt bodies during class training, this should be required several times. Some might think what I’m suggesting is to gruesome for a young adult to watch, but in the end it just might alleviate a mother and father having to make an identification of their dead mangled child in the morgue. Also, it might help a young adult from becoming a paraplegic from a car crash for the rest of their life. If any one doubts what I’m saying just visit some long term care facilities where many young adults spend the rest of their lives from a car crash because their families are unable to care for t
      them. Yes long term care facilities are not just for the elderly.

  4. Bring back the standard transmission! It’s difficult to text, tune the radio, reach for your wallet, purse, etc… driving is a skill that is acquired by practice,patience, and paying attention to your vehicle and everything around you.

  5. Unfortunately, now that marijuana has been legalized locally (not Federally — yet), the picture may get worse than before. This is so difficult to comprehend when government just recently placed severe restrictions on the population, supposedly to protect us (from COVID). How concerned about the well being of the people could they REALLY be?

      1. That’s right! Alcohol and drunk driving do continue to be a huge problem, and not just among teenagers, either. Too many people are seriously injured and/or killed by drunk drivers, or these drivers who insist on driving when they’re drunk end up adversely compromising or taking their own lives, as well as other people’s.

    1. How many people smoking weed have driven 100+ MPH into a crowd of people? If anything, they drive slower and before it was legalized, you drove slower so you wouldn’t get caught smokin’ weed and driving. “Look out for the cops, man.” “Drive a little slower.” There is no easy answer.

  6. I believe all teenagers should at least be accompanied by one (1) adult until they the required age of adulthood.

  7. Thank you for this article!!! It is a really helpful reminder and I truly appreciated all of the powerful statistical information!

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