If it hasn’t done so already, your local school district is about to shut down for summer vacation giving a new lease on life to a spate of young drivers who now get to add time to their newfound freedom.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety calls the time between Memorial and Labor days as the “100 Deadliest Days,” because of that combination of free time and inexperienced drivers on U.S. roads. The group revealed a new study that shows drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.
During this time of year, the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15% compared to the rest of the year. During the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this time frame.
“Statistics show that teen crashes spike during the summer months because teens are out of school and on the road,” said David Yang, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety executive director. “The doundation’s research found that inexperience paired with greater exposure on the road could create a deadly combination for teen drivers.”
(Maryland tops list of safest states for teen drivers. To find out why, Click Here.)
The new study analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:
- 9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
- 6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
- 5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
- 2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash
Despite the fact that new cars are safer than ever and driver education programs are more robust than in the past, fatal teen crashes are on the rise. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10% from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available.
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AAA says parents play a critical role in changing a teen’s driving behaviors, and encourages parents to set firm expectations for teens getting behind the wheel.
“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer this summer,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA Director of State Relations. “It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your safety belt.”
There are three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are: distraction, not bucking up and speeding. Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, which includes things like talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.
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In 2015, the latest data available, 60% of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash, AAA noted. Speeding is a factor in nearly 30% of fatal crashes involving teen drivers.