AAA Stresses Safety As Teens Face the 100 Deadliest Days of the Year

teen at distracted driving simulator

Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to summer, but it also marks the beginning of the100 deadliest days on the roads for teenage drivers. From now until Labor Day, AAA East Central urges parents to talk to their kids about safety, and putting their cell phones away while driving. Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel, according to a new report released by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.  In 2013 alone, 371,645 people were injured and 2,927 were killed in crashes that involved a teen driver. The results come just as the “100 Deadliest Days” begin, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when teen crash fatalities historically climb.  

“AAA urges parents to increase their focus on safety during the school-free, high-risk summer months ahead when teens drive more and often have less supervision," says  Theresa Podguski, AAA East Central’s Director of Legislative Affairs and Safety.  "Summertime fun for teens can occur behind the wheel, but that’s also when problems can happen. This is a strong reminder for teens to be mindful when sharing the road,” she adds.

The study analyzed data of police-reported crashes of drivers aged 15-19, from 1994-2013 and found that:

  • While the overall number of teen crashes are down,  the majority of people killed (66%) and injured (67%) in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves

  • Nearly 50 percent of those injured were in another vehicle; 17 percent were in the teen driver’s car; and 2 percent were non-motorists (i.e., pedestrian, bicyclist)

  • Nearly 30 percent of those killed were in another car, 27 percent were the teen’s passenger and ten percent were non-motorists (i.e., pedestrians, bicyclist)

The study tracked the number of drivers ages 15-19 involved in fatal crashes in 2013:

  • PA: 84

  • NY: 84

  • WV: 25

  • OH: 87

  • KY: 57

People killed in crashes involving a driver ages 15-19 in 2013, according to the study:

  • PA: 93

  • NY: 94

  • WV: 28

  • OH: 95

  • KY: 61

AAA is promoting the study findings to raise attention among parents of teen drivers and all road users particularly during the “100 Deadliest Days” period.  Based on a AAA analysis of the government’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS), in 2013, an average of 220 teen drivers and passengers died in traffic crashes during each of the summer months, a 43 percent increase compared to the rest of the year.

AAA has been a decades-long advocate on behalf of teen drivers and their families and has been a leader at the state level in advocating for the implementation and improvement of both graduated drivers licensing (GDL) laws and quality driver education programs.  Additional data from this study point to the drop in overall crash rates for teen drivers that can be attributed to strong GDL legislation as well as other factors including falling gas prices and the economy.

In the last 20 years, non-fatal injury crashes and fatal crashes of teen drivers aged 15-19 decreased by 51 percent and 56 percent respectively.  In comparison, crashes resulting in non-fatal injuries and fatalities, including but not limited to those involving teen drivers fell by 25 percent and 17 percent respectively.

To keep teens safe during these dangerous months and year round, AAA East Central suggests the following tips for parents:

  •  Driving Distraction Free. No cell phones, no texting, no talking while operating a vehicle.

  • Eliminate trips without purpose.  Limit teens' driving to essential trips and only with parental permission for at least the first year of driving.

  •  Limit passengers. Crash rates increase with each teen passenger in the vehicle. Fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase when two or more teen passengers are present versus when teens drive alone. 

  • Restrict night driving. A teen driver's chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles at night. Many parents limit driving during the highest-risk late night hours, yet should consider limiting evening driving as well, as more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.

  • Teach your teens how to drive. Summer offers the perfect opportunity for teens to learn how to drive and the best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving. Even after a teen has a license that allows solo driving, parents and teens should continue to practice driving together to help the teen manage increasingly more complex and challenging driving conditions

  • Be there. Make sure your teen knows that if they need help, advice or a ride, they can call you at any time. 

Tools to help parents prepare for the “100 Deadliest Days” of summer driving and other resources to coach teens through the learning-to drive process including a parent-teen driving agreement can be found on AAA’s award-winning website TeenDriving.AAA.com. Parents have found the online AAA StartSmart program to be particularly useful, helping them to quickly become effective in-car coaches, make informed decisions about access to a vehicle, and manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.

AAA East Central is a not-for-profit association with 83 local offices in Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia servicing more than 2.7 million members.

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For More Information Contact Chelsea Pompeani, Public Affairs Director
at 412-365-7274 or cpompeani@aaaec.com