When school’s out, the children reign, and unfortunately, this means an increased risk of being involved in or causing a fatal car accident for teenagers. Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer and what experts refer to as the “100 Deadliest Days.” This period spans from Memorial Day to Labor Day and is considered some of the worst days to be on the roads because of the surge of inexperienced drivers.
According to AAA, from 2010 to 2019, nearly 7,000 people died from summertime accidents, with teen drivers ages 16-17 being most responsible. With more freedom and unstructured time comes tendencies towards seeking out thrills due to boredom. And as driving is still new and exciting to these young drivers, hitting the road and driving around with friends is often how they find ways to entertain themselves during the summer months.
Top 7 Factors That Lead to Increased Risk of Fatal Teen Driving Accidents in the Summer
There are several factors that contribute to fatal teen crashes, with distraction, speeding, and not buckling up being the most common.
- Distracted driving: We’ve said it before, and we’ll say it again, “Do not text and drive!” AAA reports that nearly 6 out of 10 teen crashes are caused by distracted driving, with texting and using a smartphone being the biggest reason. Chatting and giving attention to their friends in the car with them is another major factor.
- Failing to use a seatbelt: According to the CDC, teens have some of the lowest rates of using a seatbelt. And research has shown that of those teens who died in an accident, most of them were the ones who had chosen not to wear a seatbelt.
- Speeding: Of all the mistakes inexperienced teen drivers make, speeding is reported to be one of the mistakes made most often. Teens tend to have a lower appreciation for laws and regulations and thus are more likely to drive recklessly and above the speed limit.
- Running red lights: The AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index found that 32% of teen drivers admitted to running red lights. In the summer months, when there are more teen drivers on the road, there are thus higher chances of fatal accidents occurring from this factor.
- Aggressive driving: Teens and younger adults are often more prone to displays of bravado. They enjoy showing off and competing against one another and additionally have less patience with other drivers on the road. These traits tend to lead to aggressive driving, which is a common factor in motor vehicle accidents.
- Driving while drowsy: No school means not having to get out of bed as early, which means teens are more likely to stay out later than usual with friends. Teenagers are also more likely to push their limits, requiring less sleep to function than adults. This leads to an increase in drowsy driving, which contributes to fatal accidents.
- Drive under the influence: With less supervision and restrictions during the school year, teens are more likely to experiment with substances and alcohol at higher rates. The CDC states that in 2018, 24% of young drivers that were killed in car crashes had been drinking.
Tips for Safe Summer Driving
Though teens are more likely to be involved in fatal crashes, there are some steps they can take to help significantly lower their chances of being in an accident:
- Stow their phone: Parents can ask their teens to place their phone somewhere out of sight and out of mind while driving, like the glove box. If they need it for directions, they can place it somewhere out of reach but still within sight to view or hear map directions. It’s even better if another person in the car can help with directions.
- Practice supervised driving: The more road time they get, the better drivers they will be and will more quickly learn to manage distractions in the car. Parents can help by supervising some practice driving time and engaging in simple conversation while helping them stay focused on the road.
- Establish an “open door” policy: Teens are more likely to drive drunk, drowsy, or under the influence of other substances if they feel they can’t talk to their parents about it. By creating a safe space for them to communicate, teens may be more likely to call for help when they have been drinking or in other situations where they feel unsafe driving or getting in the car with someone else under the influence.
- Lead by example: If teens see their parents or guardians being dismissive about traffic safety and laws, they are more likely to drive recklessly themselves. If your teen is in the car with you while you are driving, try to be mindful of not only your driving but how you react and speak to other drivers around you as well.
- Set rules: Though not every parent likes to enforce strict rules and curfews, it may be necessary to set at least some boundaries during the summer months when there is an increased risk of teen driving accidents. Asking them to avoid being out on the road past a certain time and to call for any reason if they don’t feel safe driving can help lower their chances of being involved in an accident.
Poynter & Bucheri Accident Recovery — Indianapolis Personal Injury Attorneys
If you or your teen has been injured in an accident caused by another negligent teen driver, contact the accident recovery experts at Poynter & Bucheri. We understand how serious the results of teen driving accidents can be and will ensure you are properly compensated for your injuries and losses. Don’t hesitate — one of our experienced attorneys can assist you right away. Call 1-800-265-9881 for a free case review.