Teen Drivers—Why You Should Fear Them This Summer

By Monica Ruechel

Summer: the time known for sun, fun, and AAA’s 100 Deadliest Days. Wait, what?! Atlanta drivers beware—the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the time in which the number of deadly teen car accidents gets significantly higher than at any point in the year. In an article published by the WSAV Staff, Jennifer Ryan from AAA says the number of deadly teen car crashes increases about 15% during these 100 days.

What is the reason for this increase? Ryan says that there is a combination of reasons rather than just one. First, there are more teen drivers on the road. Teens are no longer spending seven hours sitting in classrooms, so they have more free time to drive around during the day. Teen drivers are already 3 times more likely than drivers of other ages to be involved in fatal traffic accidents, so if you increase the number of teen drivers on the road it makes sense that the number of teen accidents increases as well.

Of course, this is not the only factor causing the spike in teen accidents. According to AAA, “speed, seat belts, and distractions are the three most common factors in deadly teen car accidents” (WSAV). The “speed” factor makes sense because the faster you drive, the harder the impact will be if you were to crash into something. That’s elementary physics.

However, speeding is the cause of only 30% of fatal teen car crashes. The next factor is not wearing a seatbelt. If you think about what it’s like to be in a car, any sudden jerk can send your body moving forwards even with a seatbelt. If you have a seatbelt on when you are in an accident, you’re less likely to go flying through your windshield and be severely injured. As of 2015, 60% of teens killed in car accidents were not wearing their seat belts.

However, this is not the primary factor. Distractions are the primary cause of teen accidents which makes sense because teens are addicted to their smart phones and like to pay attention to those phones even when you’re driving. BUT WAIT—Ryan says that cell phones are NOT the primary distraction for teen drivers. The primary distraction is having a passenger in the car—cell phones are only the second cause of distractions! Distractions are the cause of about 60% of teen car accidents. Combine all of these factors with the increase in the number of teen drivers on the road and you have the perfect recipe for a spike in teen accidents.

This would be the moment in the conversation about teens driving that the family comedian would say that since the teens are driving, it’s time to stay off the roads! This is the easiest solution to decreasing the number of teens involved in car accidents. If fewer people are on the roads, there will be fewer accidents!

However, because that option is literally impossible, there are other ways we can work to lessen the blow of the 100 Deadliest Days. As a driving school, 1 ACT Driving Schools will do our part and teach your teen how to be safe on the road through our driving lessons.

Unfortunately, our role stops there. Parents, it’s up to you to teach your teens how to be responsible drivers. When you teach them how to drive, stress the importance of driving laws in keeping themselves safe. When you drive with them in the car, practice good driving habits as well. If they see you texting while driving or going 10 miles per hour over the speed limit at all times, they will think these behaviors are okay. Establish rules with your teens about having passengers in the car. If you buy them a car, go the extra mile and set up a system that alerts you if they don’t buckle up or if they drive too fast. Do whatever you need to do to keep your teen safe, especially as they take on the open road this summer.

Parents, remember that the safety of your teen driver starts with you.  Do your part to make the 100 Deadliest Days a little bit less deadly.

For the full WSAV article: http://wsav.com/2017/06/01/aaa-teen-drivers-three-times-more-likely-to-be-involved-in-fatal-crash/

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