Have you heard of the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer? The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day mark the 100 deadliest days for a teenager to be on the road. With summer jobs being scarce because of the Coronavirus, improving weather, and COVID restrictions being lifted, our teens are more than ready to head to the beaches, parks, and summer parties.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers between 2008 and 2018 during the “100 Deadliest Days.” That’s an average of seven per day. Their research shows that 16-17 years old drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than adults.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), list the following as eight danger zones leading to deadly crashes involving teens:
- Driver inexperience
- Driving with teen passengers
- Nighttime driving
- Not using seat belts
- Distracted driving
- Drowsy driving
- Reckless driving
- Impaired driving
Distracted driving involves more than just texting. Here are some potentially lethal driving distractions, one of which is a bigger risk than a cell phone:
- Applying make-up
- Reaching in a purse or glove box
- Fumbling while performing what seems like a simple task, for instance, changing the radio station
- The biggest distracted driving threat is having other teenagers in the car. This risk increases with increased numbers of teen passengers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reported that teen drivers are two-and-a-half times more likely to engage in risky behaviors when driving with another teen in the car. When traveling with multiple passengers, it’s three times. The risky behavior can include drinking and driving, horseplay, speeding, tailgating and “showing off.”
How can parents help?
AAA encourages parents to do the following:
- Talk with teens early and often about refraining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
- Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.
The CDC suggests these steps:
- When driving with your child, watch closely and make suggestions on how your teen can improve.
- Practice with your teen at different times of the day, in different kinds of weather, and in heavy and light traffic.
- Restrict your teen’s nighttime driving, and make sure your teen is off the road by 9 or 10 pm for at least the first six months they have a license.
- Limit your teen to zero or one young passenger for at least the first six months they have a license.
- Require your teen to wear a seat belt on every trip. It is the simplest way to prevent car crash injuries and deaths.
We can let our kids have fun during the summer months without risking their lives. Better to nag your child than mourn them.