Summertime is Not a Good Time for Teen Drivers
Summertime is associated with fun times, with good times – barbecues, swimming, vacations, boating, etc. Unfortunately, it is also host to the 100 deadliest days of the calendar year for teen drivers – the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Nationwide, more than 7,000 people died in teen driving-related summertime crashes between 2010 and 2019. On average, more people died during those days than any other days of the year.
Teen drivers ages 16-17 are reportedly three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to research from the American Automobile Association’s Foundation for Traffic Safety. They believe part of the reason may be that teens have more unstructured time behind the wheel during the summer than at other times of the year. With everyone itching to get out and get together with pandemic restrictions easing, this summer’s statistics could be even worse.
What should parents do? First and most importantly, try to model good driving habits. It’s more convincing for teens to do what we do than simply do what we say. Good driving habits include wearing seat belts. Why are we still talking about seat belts? Research from just a few years ago showed that 60% of teen drivers killed in car crashes were NOT wearing a seat belt. And it’s not just teens. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that almost HALF (47%) of those killed in car accidents were not wearing seat belts. Let’s buckle up!
Another good safety habit to model is staying focused (i.e., eyes on the road, not on phones, radios, maps, etc.). Research shows that distraction plays a role in nearly 60% of teen car accidents. Distracted driving claimed 3,142 lives in 2019 according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Adding some additional structured driving time with teens during the summer can help as well. Spending time with a teen driving is a great opportunity for feedback and coaching. Just because they can drive alone doesn’t mean they have to. And habitually jumping behind the wheel for those family outings is a missed opportunity to have a recent teen licensed driver get some more structured experience (assuming you can still get your teen to engage in family activities). Another opportunity for structured coaching is enrolling your new driver in a driver’s education course. This not only improves their skills but can save you some money on auto insurance premiums.