Teen Driving During the “100 Deadliest Days”

This post was updated slightly in May of 2023.

It is officially summer, which means your teen likely has an abundance of free time on their hands to enjoy being outside and socializing with friends. This can be a very exciting time for teens, especially those old enough to drive. But before you let your teen head out on the open road with their friends, be sure to take a look at this latest message from the American Automobile Association (AAA) on what parents need to know about the 100 Deadliest Days.

Each year between Memorial Day and Labor Day, or what AAA calls the 100 Deadliest Days, new teen drivers ages 16-17 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than those 18 and over. In fact, there are more daily deaths in crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months than the rest of the year.

Why? The numbers tell the story:

  • 72% of teens admitted to at least one risky driving behavior in the past 30 days — including speeding (47%), texting (35%), running a red light (32%), aggressive driving (31%), drowsy driving (25%), and beyond.
  • 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%).

To keep your new driver safe this summer, here are some things to consider:

  • Driving with friends can prove to be a significant distraction for teen drivers — in fact, the crash risk doubles when teens drive one peer passenger and triples with two or more teen passengers. Talk openly with your teen about these risks and agree on ground rules for driving with passengers. All 50 states and the District of Columbia have rules for teen drivers, which is a good place to start.
  • Statistics show that teens are far more likely to be in a serious car accident when driving at night. Darkness impairs teens’ visibility while they are driving and can make 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 your teen a ride when you know they are planning to be out late.
  • Wearing a seat belt greatly reduces the risk of being hurt or killed in a car crash. Discuss with your teen the importance of not only wearing a seat belt while in the driver’s seat, but also when they are a passenger in a friend’s vehicle.

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 friends. Prior to letting your teen take to the road, make sure you both are 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. For more information on how to instruct your teen in good driving habits, consider exploring AAA’s several online resources, including a Teen Driver Safety website and Coaching Your New Driver guide.

Summer break is a great time to be outside and to enjoy recreational activities — but there is no reason we can’t celebrate safely!

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