Car wrecks are the leading cause of death for teen drivers, and that risk goes up in the summer months. To raise awareness of this trend, AAA coined the “100 Deadliest Days of Driving” to mark the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when more teens die on America’s roads than any other time.
According to AAA teen crashes killed more than 1,800 people in 2015 — an alarming increase of 10 percent over the previous year. AAA blames teens’ inexperience, texting, alcohol consumption and not using seat belts.
The reason more teens die in crashes during the summer is fairly simple: There are more teens on the road than during any other time of year. During the summer months, school is out and teens are more likely to be out with their friends. More friends mean more distractions and a higher likelihood of a crash. At the same time, they are also more likely to be driving on unfamiliar streets, rather than just heading to school or their usual hangouts. This year, a wrecked car sits on the lawn outside West Babylon High School to warn students of the 100 days.
Parents often feel like they are the last people on Earth their teen drivers will listen to, but the opposite is true. Parents’ rules, and rule enforcement, play a key role in ensuring teen drivers make good choices behind the wheel and stay out of trouble on the road.
Parents also need to realize their influence in this area begins in early childhood. From the time children are young through their teen years, they watch how parents manage everything from basic safety to reacting to an aggressive driver.
Neal Goldstein, partner at Goldstein and Bashner advises to “Always wear your seatbelt, put your phone away, and practice safe, calm driving around your children and teens at all times.”
Consider these tips:
Limit who rides with your teen and whom your teen rides with
Teens need several months of experience behind the wheel before they are ready to drive with the distraction of friends and other passengers. Consider restricting the number of people allowed to ride with your teen for six months to a year after they receive their license.
Even if you limit your teen to driving only her siblings, other families may not use the same rules. It is paramount to know whom your teen is riding with, and ensuring they are trustworthy drivers.
A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration survey from 2007 to 2014 found that the percentage of young drivers 16 to 24 years old seen using a hand-held device quadrupled from 1% to 4.8%.
The Pew Research Center found that 55% of teens send texts daily — and they average 80 per day. Pew said in 2009 that 92% of youths 15 to 17 years old had cell phones and 24% reported being online “almost constantly.”
In many areas, New York State’s graduated driver license laws include curfews. Regardless of the area’s curfew, parents should set clear curfews that keep teens off the street after dark for at least their first six months on the road.
Talk to your teens about drinking and driving, wearing a seatbelt, speeding, and distracted driving. Give your teens clear expectations about these things.
Keep the lines of communication open with your teen, and let them know that the rules may relax somewhat over time as they gain experience.
How can Goldstein & Bashner help?