COLUMBUS — This week marks the start of the 100 Deadliest Days for teen drivers. This is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when the number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers historically rises. This summer, the combination of schools closed, activities curtailed, summer jobs canceled, and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, could prove an even deadlier combination on Ohio’s roads.
In Ohio, 286 people died in teen driver crashes that occurred during the 100 Deadliest Days between 2008 and 2018, an average of 26 each summer.
Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in teen driver summertime crashes during the same 10-year time period, more than seven people a day each summer.
“The last decade of crash data shows that teens continue to be over-represented in crashes and summertime marks an increase of fatal crashes for this age group,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults.”
AAA Foundation research also shows that teen driver crashes impact all road users, as nationally, two-thirds of those injured or killed in teen driver crashes are people other than the teen driver.
Teen Risk Factors:
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists driver inexperience as the leading cause of teen crashes. Inexperience and risky behaviors can be a deadly combination. According to the new AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72 percent of teen drivers ages 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:
- Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47 percent)
- Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40 percent)
- Texting (35 percent)
- Red-light running (32 percent)
- Aggressive driving (31 percent)
- Drowsy driving (25 percent)
- Driving without a seatbelt (17 percent)
AAA recommends that now is a good time for parents to both model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them too.
“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Jennifer Ryan, AAA’s director of state relations. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But we can’t just tell teens about the dangers. We must also refrain from engaging in risky driving behaviors and ensure we are modeling good behavior.”
- To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:
- Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
- Teach by example, and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
- Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen, including 10 hours at night.
To support parents in conducting practice driving sessions during COVID-19 and beyond, AAA is providing a free four-page guide to help parents coach their teens on how to drive safely. The “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for Parents” AAA ParentCoachingGuide 2020 offers behind-the-wheel lesson plans, including a variety of “DOs and DON’Ts” to make the learning experience as helpful as possible.
Amid a growing number of teens choosing to obtain their license before they turn 18, AAA has recently expanded its offering for driver education with the launch of How to Drive Online in Ohio. AAA’s How to Drive Online is an online driver education course that fulfills the 24-hours of classroom instruction required by the state. More information is available at AAA.com/HowtoDrive.
In addition, TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also 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.