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Help keep your teens safe this summer

DATE | 06/19/23
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With summer comes an increased risk to teenagers on the roadways.

AAA is reminding parents and teens to be aware of the sharp increase in teen fatalities from auto accidents that happens each year during the “100 Deadliest Days” — the span of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Teen driver statistics

According to AAA, an average of 2,108 teens are involved in deadly crashes every year, and 660 (31%) of those occur during the 100 Deadliest Days. From 2011 to 2020 nationwide, nearly half of the total number of those killed in teen-driver crashes for the rest of the year were during the summertime. AAA noted that it’s not the fact that teens tend to drive more in the summer; instead, it’s the driving behavior that increases the risk of a crash.

Research also shows that the risk of a fatal crash increases in direct relation to the number of teenagers in a car (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). AAA’s research found when a teen driver has only teen passengers in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people increases 51%, while there is a decrease of 8% when someone 35 or older was in the car.

Steps parents can take to increase safe teen driving behavior

  • Set very specific household rules around driving. Talk with teens early and often about being safe behind the wheel. This can include creating a parent/child driving contract that relates to things like:
    • Everyone buckles up for every trip.
    • Never drive impaired. It’s not only dangerous, but also a crime.
    • Teen passengers are the biggest distraction to teen drivers, and cell phones are second. Set rules covering these and other potential distractions.
    • Follow posted speed limits. Speeding is a factor in nearly 30% of fatal crashes involving teen drivers (AAA).
    • Limit nighttime driving, which is riskier for novice drivers. Drowsy driving is also an issue for many teens who don’t get enough sleep.
  • Enroll your teen in online and in-person driving classes. Make sure they get at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving under a variety of conditions.
  • Be sure you know your state’s laws regarding passenger restrictions for teen drivers.
  • Teach your teen defensive driving skills. Making these skills a habit can help reduce the chances of an accident. Pick up tips online or find a formal course.
  • Be a positive example: Maintain appropriate space around your vehicle, adjust your speed to conditions, and adhere to the same guidelines you give your teen.

Need guidance on drawing up a contract with your teen? Get started with a sample parent/teen driving agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Remember, teens’ inexperience behind the wheel makes them more likely to engage in risky behavior. It’s critical for parents to play an active role in guiding their teens to embrace safe driving behaviors.