There’s an invisible crisis looming around this time of year. The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day mark summer vacation, but they also mark the start of a frightening phenomenon impacting teen drivers across the country.
Parents, it’s time to ask a difficult question: Is your child safe from the 100 most dangerous days of summer?
This phenomenon was first identified by The American Automobile Association (AAA) when their data found that teen-related crashes spike throughout the summer. The numbers suggest that roughly 1-in-50 of all annual fatal accidents involve a teen driver during these 100 days.
To understand how significant this increase is, consider the following: Car crashes are already the single greatest source of danger for teens ages 16-19. Teens are roughly 3x more likely to be in a crash than someone over the age of 20.
From Memorial Day to Labor Day, there is a 25% greater risk of any teen driver being involved in a crash. Moreover, newly licensed drivers are at the greatest risk of all and are much more prone to traffic violations.
There are a few driving factors behind these numbers: First, teens are more likely to make driving errors due to inexperience. Second, summer vacation gives teens more free time to drive, which isn’t inherently dangerous, but increases the risk purely through hours of driving. Finally, teens are more likely to engage in risky behaviors (knowingly or unknowingly) that significantly increase the likelihood of a crash.
There are four major risk factors behind the most serious teen car crashes. These are not necessarily the top causes of accidents, but rather the behaviors that are most likely to result in a fatality.
Unsafe speeding is a contributing factor in about 30% of teen car crashes. Teenage male drivers are twice as likely as female drivers to get a speeding ticket, and older teens (18-19) tend to speed more than newly licensed drivers.
The CDC suggests that parents are the key to preventing teen speeding. There’s strong evidence to suggest that teens pick up driving habits by watching their parents. If parents are more inclined toward defensive driving and following the speed limit, their children tend to do the same.
It’s no secret that driving at night is more dangerous than driving during the day. Roughly half of all fatal car crashes occur between 9 PM and 5AM. In 2019, approximately 40% of the most severe teen car crashes occur during these hours, increasing during the 100 most dangerous days.
Because driving at night is more dangerous for everyone on the road (teens and experienced drivers alike), parents may want to set a curfew for their child or offer to drive them after dark. While it is crucial to develop night-driving skills, it’s more important to help your teen driver get home safe.
To be clear: Underage drinking is unlawful and yet drunk driving is a contributing factor in 25% of teen-related car crashes. There are a number of reasons for this. First, teen drivers with a BAC as low as 0.01% are significantly more likely to be in a crash than an adult driver with the same BAC.
Even if your teen doesn’t drink, they could still be at risk. Teens, in general, tend to accept rides from intoxicated peers, even when they recognize their friends are unsafe to drive.
Given the stakes and the degree of risk, the most effective thing parents can do is offer to drive their teen to and from gatherings with friends. You may not be able to control whether your child is drinking, but you can control their ability to get home safely.
A Difficult Conversation
If you have a teen driver in your family, this is the time to have a serious talk. Let your teen know that you are concerned for their safety and educate them about the risks of reckless driving. In some cases, you may want to create a driving agreement with your teen to set expectations for their driving hours and responsibilities.
The more honest and open you are with your teen, the better able you are to protect them from the 100 most dangerous days of summer.
To schedule a free case consultation with an experienced Connecticut car accident attorney from Carter Mario Law Firm, please don’t hesitate to call (203) 806-9256 or send us an email.