Memorial Day kicks off the 100 Deadliest Days for teen drivers, the period when teen crash deaths increase by an average of 15 percent compared with other times of the year.
As this historically dangerous time approaches, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s latest study Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, reveals that new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.
“Statistics show that teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” said Dr. David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director. “This new research shows that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road could create a deadly combination for teen drivers.”
Fatal teen crashes are rising overall. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest available.
AAA urges parents to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved with their young drivers. Talk to your teens about the dangers and lead by example by putting safe driving practices into action like buckling your seat belt and not talking on the phone while driving. Also review the teen driving laws in your state and consider setting rules with a parent-teen driving agreement.
Here are a few more ways to help make roads safer this summer, courtesy of AAA driving instructor Linda Ricci.
Before going anywhere, buckle up and make sure you’re in the proper driving position, with your chest 10 inches from the steering wheel and a slight bend in your knees and elbows. Adjust the rearview mirror so you can see the entire rear window. Side mirrors should barely show the side of the car. Once a month, look under the vehicle for fluid leaks. Clean the headlights and windshield often and never drive barefoot or in flip-flops.
When the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety studied why teens crash, it identified three top distractions: cellphone use, talking to passengers and looking for something in the car. Focus on driving, not music or texting, and keep items like water bottles where they won’t roll around. Never drive tired or impaired by drugs or alcohol. Avoid driving at night, when visibility is reduced and a majority of fatal crashes involving teens occur.
With warm weather come bicycles, motorcycles and more pedestrians. Drivers must be prepared to share the road with all of them. That means stopping for pedestrians in the crosswalk, watching for bicyclists when pulling out of a parking lot, and looking over your shoulder for motorcycles when changing lanes on the highway. Be aware and make good decisions and you’ll help keep driving cool this summer.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.
Check out insurance options for your teen driver at AAA.com/InsureTeen.