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The Summer of Safety Is Here

Summer is known as a joyous time, filled 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. “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%.”

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Teen Driving Statistics

Nationwide, 7,316 people died in teen driver-related summertime crashes from 2011 to 2020, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That is nearly half of the total number of those killed in teen-driver crashes for the rest of the year. 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.

Parents’ Roles

Parents should set very specific household rules with their teen drivers. AAA offers a parent/teen driving contract 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.”

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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