Buckle your seat belts: the 100 “Deadliest Days” has begun!
It’s the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when motorists are more likely to be injured or killed in crashes involving teen drivers.
Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in teen-related summertime crashes between 2008 and 2018, equivalent to more than seven people a day each summer, reports research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Closer to home, AAA Northeast gleaned data from the UCONN Crash Data Repository and learned between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2019, more than 3,300 teen drivers were involved in crashes statewide, — equivalent to one teen driver crash every 42 minutes. In fact, 6 of 12 fatally injured teen drivers in Connecticut were killed during that period.
From 2015 – 2019, June was the number 1 month for teen driver crashes in Connecticut, according to the Repository.
“As teens hit the road this summer, a combination of closed schools, curtailed activities, cancelled summer jobs and eased Covid-19 restrictions could very well contribute to teen crashes,” said Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman. “Couple these elements with behind-the-wheel inexperience, and we find teen drivers are a much higher risk on the road than other age groups.”
Speed, reckless driving, failure to yield rights of way, and the inability to lanes are all contributing factors to teen deaths in the Nutmeg State, according to the Repository.
The AAA Foundation research also found for every mile driven, new teen drivers, between 16 and 17 years of age, are three times more likely to be involved in deadly crashes compared to adults.
“The last decade of crash data shows teens continue to be over-represented in crashes,” said Dr. David Yang, the Foundation’s executive director. “And summertime marks an increase of fatal crashes for this age group.”
In its new Traffic Safety Culture Index, a report that examines the attitudes and behaviors related to traffic safety, about 72% of teen drivers between 16 and 18 years of age admitted they engaged in a risky behavior in the past 30 days. These included:
- 47% who said they’ve driven 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street
- 40% who said they’ve driven 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway
- 35% who said they’ve texted while driving
- 32% who said they’ve run red lights.
Significant percentages also report teen have driven aggressively, while drowsy or without a seatbelt.
AAA recommends that now is a good time for parents to both model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them too.
“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA’s Director of State Relations. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But we can’t just tell teens about the dangers. We must also refrain from engaging in risky driving behaviors and ensure we are modeling good behavior.”
To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:
- Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
- Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.
Education, proper driver training and parental involvement help teens become better, safer drivers on roadways, said Mayko. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana while driving.
Parents and teens should visit TeenDriving.AAA.com for the tools to prepare teens for the dangerous summer driving season.