Parkland Press

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Guest View II

Thursday, June 7, 2018 by The Press in Opinion

Teen driver crashes kill 10 people a day during 100 Deadliest Days

As school lets out for summer, AAA stresses the importance of preparing and educating inexperienced teen drivers for some of the most dangerous driving days of the year.

More than 1,050 people were killed in crashes involving a teen driver in 2016 during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

That is an average 10 people per day — a 14-percent increase compared to the rest of the year, according to data analyzed by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

“Given their inexperience behind the wheel and with more drivers on the road, the summer months are the riskiest for teen drivers,” said AAA East Central Director of Legislative Affairs Theresa Podguski. “Although the facts are tragic, they present an opportunity to focus on and discuss what can be done to improve the safety of teenagers on the road.”

Speed and nighttime driving are significant factors contributing toward the number of crashes, and subsequently fatalities, involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days (statistics based on 2016 NHTSA FARS data as analyzed by the AAA Foundation):

Nighttime driving and speeding

•36 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities involving teen drivers occurred between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.

•Data show a 22-percent increase in the average number of nighttime crashes per day involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days compared to the rest of the year

•29 percent of all motor vehicle deaths involving a teen driver were speed-related

“Given the danger speeding and nighttime driving present to teen drivers, we recommend parents be actively involved in their teen’s learning-to-drive process,” Podguski said.

In preparation for the dangerous summer driving period, AAA encourages parents to educate their teens and themselves about risky driving behavior.

Parents should:

•Discuss with teens early and often the dangers of risky driving situations, such as speeding and nighttime driving.

•Discuss with teens the dangers and consequences of distracted driving (i.e., texting, having multiple people in the car, etc.).

•Teach by example and minimize your own risky behavior when behind the wheel.

•Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers. Consider setting driving limits that are stronger than a state’s law, and enforce those limits.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools, including licensing and state law information, to help prepare parents and teens for not only the dangerous summer driving season, but also all year long.

The site also features new interactive widgets highlighting teen driving risks, as well as a social host quiz.

The online AAA StartSmart program offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.

Strengthening teen driving laws to increase roadway safety is a top priority for AAA. The association’s advocacy efforts are helping to protect teens by working to pass graduated driver licensing laws, including seat belt requirements, wireless device bans and nighttime driving and passenger restrictions, in states across the country.

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Editor’s note: The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a nonprofit, publicly funded, 501(c) (3) charitable research and educational organization. The foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit AAAFoundation.org.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 80 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania and West Virginia serving 2.7 million members.