AAA: Summer break means higher chance of deadly crashes involving teen drivers

This week marks the start of what AAA calls the "100 Deadliest Days of Summer." It’s a period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when deadly crashes involving teen drivers spike.

While car crashes are the number one cause of death for 16 to 19-year-olds, the summer is an especially dangerous time for young, inexperienced drivers. According to AAA, 30% of deaths involving teen drivers occur during the summer.

AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins said that’s because a lot more teens are on the road during the summer and are more likely to be distracted or participating in risky behavior at this time of year.

"For every mile driven, new teen drivers (ages 16-17 years old) are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults," said Jenkins. "Teens lack the experience, skills, and maturity of a seasoned driver, which contribute to an increase in the chance that there will be a deadly outcome, not just for the teen driver, but also for any passenger as well as others on the road."

Nationwide, more than seven people a day lose their lives in crashes involving teens during the summer months, according to AAA.

Understanding and talking about the following risk factors is an important first step for parents and teens, AAA says, offering the following tips: 

Driving with passengers: Teen drivers’ crash risks multiply when they have teen passengers.  Set limits and enforce them.
Driving at night: Night driving is more dangerous due to limited visibility, fatigue, and impaired drivers on the road. This is especially a risky time for teens. Limit the time your novice driver spends behind the wheel at night. 
Not wearing a safety belt: Wearing a safety belt greatly reduces the risk of being hurt or killed in a crash. Make a rule: everyone buckles up for every trip.
Speeding: Speed is a leading factor in crashes for teens and adults. Teens need to follow posted speed limit and parents should set a good example and strong rules.
Distracted driving: Teen passengers are the biggest distraction to teen drivers, but cell phones come in second. Many teens admit to interacting with their phone and in-car infotainment systems while behind the wheel despite clear dangers. Make a family rule covering these and other distractions that everyone abides by.
Drowsy driving: Teens have a hard time getting enough sleep and often struggle with drowsiness. Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, and teens have the highest risk. Ensure everyone who is behind the wheel has gotten enough sleep.
Impaired driving: Driving impaired from alcohol and other drugs puts everyone at risk. Enforce strict zero-tolerance rules with your teen and be a good role model.

AAA also suggests that parents conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen. AAA also offers online and in-person safe driving courses for new drivers.

For more information, visit AAA's website.