Many teens look forward to summer because they have more freedom from studies
and more time to hang out with friends. But the 100 days of summer vacation
also are the most dangerous for teenagers because they get into more
car accidents during this time period.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that the period between Memorial
Day and Labor day warning includes the '100 Deadliest Days' for
teen drivers. Nearly 800 teenagers die in traffic accidents during this
period across the U.S., according to AAA. Each summer month, an average
of 261 teens lose their lives in traffic crashes -a 26 percent increase
compared with the rest of the year.
Teens tend to get into more car crashes during summer because they are
out of school and spend more time in cars. Meanwhile, more adults are
on the roads for summer travel, as well. This year, AAA has predicted
a 10-year high in travel for Memorial Day weekend because of a rebounding
economy and lower gas prices that, barring drastic changes, should extend
throughout the season.
During summer, teenage drivers tend to drive more aimlessly and later at
night, when the risk of crashing increases, the National Safety Council
says. There are often more teens in the car, too, which increases the
number of distractions and the risk of an accident exponentially.
Nine young drivers ages 15 to 20 were killed in traffic accidents in Hawaii
in 2013, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
AAA says the risk of death for 16- and 17-year-old drivers increases by
44 percent when carrying one passenger under 21, doubles with two passengers,
and quadruples with three or more, when compared to driving alone.
The risk of a teen accident rises when they get behind the wheel of a sports
car or small vehicle, according to the Highway Loss Data Institute. Vehicles
with high horsepower tempt teen drivers to speed and drive more
Most car accidents are preventable. Deborah Hersman, president and CEO
at the NSC, said that parents should establish ground rules and expected
behaviors for safe driving.
Parental involvement improves the odds of teen drivers returning home safely.
From the NSC, AAA and
TeenDriving.com, here are a few steps parents can take:
Contract with your teen. The NSC offers a new driver contract you can fill out online (AAA has
similar guidance), or you and your young driver can draw up your own agreement.
Consider rules for always wearing seat belts, night driving, access to
the car, curfews, behaviors that will not be tolerated, etc. Specify penalties
for breaking the contract, and consider rewards, such as filling the gas
tank or an extended curfew, for good behavior.
Put your foot down. However you do it - contract, verbal warning, through a friend or another
family member - let your teen driver know in no uncertain terms that they
will lose all driving privileges at the first hint of driving under the
influence of alcohol or drugs, or any use of a cellphone or other electronic
devices while driving. Don't back down if it happens. Impaired and
distracted driving are the two most dangerous behaviors. Add others, such
as getting a speeding ticket, at your discretion.
Limit passengers. Teenage friends in the car can be a serious distraction. Hawaii's
graduated license program limits the number of passengers that inexperienced
drivers can carry. For example, a teen driver with a provisional license
can carry no more than one passenger younger than 18 years old, unless
he or she is a family member.
Let them drive you. When the opportunity arises, ride with your teen. You'll get a chance
to see how well they drive and it will build trust. Also, they'll
be on their best behavior with you in the car. If there's a difference
between what's appropriate and how they normally drive, the practice
will do them good and may change some bad habits.
Set a good example. Be a driver role model for teens who are learning to drive and for children
who are even younger. They really do take their cues from you. Always
wear your seat belt, stay within the speed limit, never use a cellphone
while driving, be courteous to other drivers ... you know: Be the kind
of driver you expect a child of yours to be.