Teen Driver Facts and Statistics

For teens, summer means months freedom from school and—for the most part—obligations. While a summer job or volunteering might factor into the schedule, there’s also so much time from the end of May through August for carefree days and time with friends. However, summer also heralds the most dangerous time for teens. That’s why when you look at teen driver facts and statistics, it’s important to keep in mind one particular time of year.

100 Deadliest Days for Teens

AAA calls the time period from Memorial Day to Labor Day the 100 Deadliest Days, because summer vacation is a time when teen crashes surge. According to a 2017 press release issued by AAA: “Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period.”

While many parents are diligent in educating new drivers about the rules of the road and driver safety, as summer vacation nears, parents must be prepared to enforce strict driving guidelines for teens to maintain their road privileges. When talking to teens about driving, the term ‘privilege’ is pertinent to ensuring teens understand that their position behind the wheel is not a right once they are licensed. Like any privilege, parents can—and should!—take away the keys if a teen has shown reckless behavior or is not following the family driving guidelines.

So how do parents ensure that teens are aware of the family’s driving guidelines? Parents can create a safe driving contract that outlines all of the rules when a teen is behind the wheel. Include cell phone rules (such as if a phone will be disabled during driving), what to do if a teen is in a crash, what documents should remain in the car, speed limits and other rules of the road. Consequences must be outlined for any violations of the contract.

While the 100 Deadliest Days see a spike in teen crashes, there are many other risks that young drivers face on the road. Luckily, new technology like Focus by TeenDrive (just launched this year!) can change these stats for your teen. Inexperience combined with a feeling of youthful invincibility may push teens to take dangerous risks while they are driving. Here are the most important teen driver facts that you need to know if you are a parent:

Extra passengers in the car lead to additional crash risk.

According to statistics compiled by DoSomething.org, “16 and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger.” Make sure to limit the number of passengers your teen can invite in the car. More passengers are not worth the risk!

Speed is a factor in many teen crashes.

The U. S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that in 2016, exceeding the speed limit contributed to 31 percent of teen fatality crashes. The speed limit is non-negotiable; driving inexperience combined with a lead foot is a dangerous and sometimes fatal combination. On the driving contract, be sure to note the consequences for speeding tickets (or warnings).

Teens and young adults are more likely to die in crashes.

While summer break may increase a teen’s risk for a fatal crash, teen drivers are at a higher risk across the board. According to statistics compiled by Impact Teen Drivers, teens and young adults (ages 16-24) comprise about a quarter of all crash deaths.

More than half of teen passengers killed in crashes were not wearing their seat belt.

Risk and youth unfortunately go hand-in-hand. While your teen is always at risk when they are driving, they also can be at risk when they are a passenger in a friend’s car. One of the best ways your teen driver can be protected on the road is by always wearing a seat-belt. The National Organization for Youth Safety (NOYS) reports that 66 percent of teen passengers killed in crashes did not buckle-up! Every person in the car should use a safety restraint. Always!

Intersections increase the crash risk.

One of the most confusing points of driving for many teens involves the right of way at an intersection. Practice four-way stop intersections until you’re sure your teen understands the rules, because, according to Geico “one-third of all crashes are at intersections.”

Almost half of teen drivers surveyed by the CDC admit to texting and driving.

The phone does not have a place in the driver’s seat. In 2015, distracted driving was responsible for almost 400,000 injuries and more than 3,000 deaths. While a distraction can be anything that takes a driver’s attention from the task of driving, for teens, the phone remains a dangerous lure. According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance—United States report (in 2015), about 42 percent of surveyed teens who had driven during the month admitted to texting or emailing at least once (during a 30-day period) while driving.

More teens are killed in car crashes after 3 p.m.

Evening and nighttime hours are especially risky for teen drivers. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Highway Loss Data Institute, nightfall (9 p.m. to midnight) was the greatest threat and represented 18 percent of teen fatalities. Early evening hours (6 p.m. to 9 p.m.) accounted for 16 percent of fatalities, and 15 percent of teen crash fatalities occurred in afternoon to early evening (3 p.m. to 6 p.m.).

As the school year ends and summer looms, teens will be grabbing the car keys and enjoying their independence. However, those carefree long summer days put teens are at a greater risk for a fatal car crash, and parents must be diligent in ensuring teens understand and follow the rules of the road. Now is the ideal time for parents to create a driving contract to outline all the rules and regulations that accompany the privilege of driving. Don’t let the 100 Deadliest Days put the brakes on your child’s life.

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