The Five Moms

We are five moms from different backgrounds who have come together with a common concern: teenagers abusing OTC cough medicine to get high.

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June 20, 2016 —

Every month, we keep you informed on the latest studies and research in our “Not My Teen” blog series. Today, we’re looking at the results of a study involving teen driving during the summertime.  

It is officially summer, which means your teen is out of school with an abundance of free time to enjoy being outside and going out with friends. This can be a very exciting time for teens, especially for those old enough to drive. But before you let your teen drive to the beach with their friends, be sure to take a look at this latest report from the AAA Foundation on teen driver behaviors.

The study presents detailed insights into how teens operate their vehicles and raises a specific red flag for parents: the “100 deadliest days”. For the 100 days following Memorial Day, the average number of crashes with teens behind the wheel increases by 16%. The reason this statistic heightens during the “100 deadliest days” is not solely due to newfound free time in teens’ lives; it is also a result of the fact that teens tend to drive more frequently with friends as passengers during this time. Driving with friends can prove to be significantly distracting for teen drivers.

The numbers tell the story:

  • 47% of teenage drivers admit that they’re distracted by having other people in the vehicle while driving.
  • Nearly 60% of teen crashes involved distracted drivers with the most common distraction being attending to passengers (14.6%) followed by cell phone use (11.9%).

"It's tragic that parents don't really appreciate the risks of passengers," says John Ulczyck, the National Safety Council’s vice president of strategic initiative. He noted that many parents understand the risks of texting and driving, but aren't as aware of how distracting it can be for a new driver to have friends in the car.

An additional point for parents to consider is teens driving at night. While curfews are a good idea for keeping track of your teen and their general safety, when it comes to driving, it’s not the time of night that matters, but rather the actual act of driving in the dark. Darkness impairs teens’ visibility while they’re driving and makes it difficult for them to anticipate potential obstacles on the road. Given their lack of experience behind the wheel, it might be a good idea to offer a ride to your teen when you know they’re planning to be out late. 

While summer is the perfect time to connect with your teen, it’s almost a given that they will be spending a significant portion of their summer out with their friends. Prior to letting your teen take to the road, make sure you and your teen are both aware of the risks. Have a conversation with your teen about safe driving, share tips on how to avoid distractions and consider creating a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement.

Summer break is a great time to be outside and to enjoy recreational activities but there is no reason we should do so without keeping safety in mind. If you have any more tips on how to keep your teen safe this summer, share them below!