It's officially the summer driving season and with it means the return of the so-called 100 Deadly Days of Summer - the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when more deadly crashes involving teen drivers typically occur.
The American Automobile Association has previously reported that more than 7,000 people died in teen driving-related summertime crashes from 2010 to 2019. According to previous research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, new teen drivers ages 16-17 are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.
“There are more daily deaths in crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months than the rest of the year because teens tend to have more unstructured time behind the wheel,” said Jake Nelson, AAA’s director of traffic safety advocacy and research. “So what can be done? We can encourage teens to double down on staying focused when driving, buckling up for every ride, and driving within posted speed limits.”
Texas, California and Florida have the highest number of summertime teen crash deaths, according to AAA: "from 2010 to 2019, there were 2,318 deaths on Texas roadways involving teen drivers, with nearly 30% occurring during summertime. California ranks 2nd in total deaths involving teen drivers at 1,631, followed by Florida at 1,584."
AAA recommends that parents model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them, too. AAA suggests focusing on the dangers of three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers:
- Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smartphone.
- Not Buckling Up: In research published in 2015, 60 percent 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. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019, 47% were not wearing seat belts.
- Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A previous AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
A comprehensive driving course is always a good idea. AAA also provides a free coaching guide with behind-the-wheel lesson plans and “DOs and DON’Ts” to make the learning experience as helpful as possible. TeenDriving.AAA.com offers more tools and an AAA StartSmart Parent Session offers 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.