While we like to think of summer as a time of great enjoyment, it’s also prime time for deadly car crashes involving teenaged drivers. According to a new study conducted by the American Automobile Association (AAA), fatal crashes with teen drivers peak during the months of June, July and August. In fact, seven of the top ten deadliest days of the year for these crashes occur in the span between Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays.
Jack Peet, who serves as the Traffic Safety Manager for AAA Michigan says “life feels more care-free when school’s out and teens have more opportunities to drive or ride in cars late at night with other teens – a deadly mix. With the majority of the most dangerous days falling during the traditional summer vacation months, parents must realize that there is no summer break from safety and be vigilant about remaining involved and enforcing rules with their teens.”
The AAA study found that more than 7,300 teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 died in traffic crashes nationwide in the period between the Memorial Day and Labor Day during the five-year period of 2005-2009. That works out to an average of 422 teens being killed in automobile crashes during each of the summer months, compared to a monthly average of 363 teen deaths in non-summer months.
“To keep teens safe during these dangerous months and year round, parents should go beyond compliance of state laws and make teens abide by rules of the house,” said AAA Foundation President and CEO Peter Kissinger.
Five Quick Tips for Keeping Your Teenage Drivers Safe
Put your foot down: Place limits on where and when your teenager can drive, and don’t allow them to drive if their trip has no purpose. Based on miles driven, teenaged drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than any other set of drivers, with the peak occuring in their first year of driving.
Coaching your teens: Beyond the other risk factors associated with teenaged drivers, their lack of real world driving experience is a huge weakness. Parents should coach their teenagers and offer them the knowledge and wisdom they’ve gained in their lifetime of driving, even after their kids have full licenses – not just when they’re driving with a permit.
Consider professional instruction: While many states now require classroom and real-world training for new drivers, these aren’t universal across the United States. We’re bullish on teaching all drivers specific techniques that can save their lives, such as the principles of defensive driving.
Place limits on passengers: Proving that peer pressure isn’t just a myth, the rate of crashes by teen drivers increases with each teenaged passenger in the car. Fatalities increase by more than five times when two teenaged passengers are present in the car.
Don’t allow teens to drive after dark: Chances of a teenager being involved in a fatal crash more than double at night over driving during the day. Don’t allow your teenager to drive after 9:00 p.m. unless you’re in the car with them.