The countdown has begun.
Talk to police, and they’ll tell you that the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day comprises the 100 deadliest days of the year. During this period – this summer it’s really 98 days – road crashes and fatalities invariably climb.
One reason has to do with teenagers. Road collisions always go up on holidays, and the summer months are, for most teens, one big holiday. That changes the risk factors for collisions, and not in their favor:
- Teens drive more in the summer than they do during the rest of the year.
- Driving distances are greater in summer, as excursions go beyond home and school.
- Teens have a greater tendency to give in to distraction.
The last factor has recently been cited by AAA as the cause for 60 percent of crashes involving teen drivers. The distractions cited include:
- Cell phones
- Distractions due to other passengers
- Taking eyes from road to look at radio, stereo, etc.
- Personal grooming, singing along with music
The AAA study does not go into the general tendencies among teens that increase their chances of a collision:
- Lack of driving experience
- Poor impulse control
- Peer pressure
- Desire for thrills through risky behavior
- Feeling of invincibility
- Likelihood of alcohol use
If you have a teen, there are things you can do to improve your teen’s chances of staying safe behind the wheel.
- Talk about dangerous driving. Don’t assume your teen is aware of all the risks.
- Be a good example. When you’re driving with your teen, take extra care to model good driving habits.
- Draw up a contract. An explicit signed agreement stating, “I will not speed, use alcohol or check my cell phone while driving” can help your teen understand how high the stakes are.
Summer is a time of fun and relaxation for many people. Realizing that the season carries extra dangers is the first step in keeping your teens safe on the road.
Enjoy the next 84 days. Stay safe.