The Most Dangerous Time of Year for Teen Drivers Has Begun
- The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes has been steadily increasing by more than 10 percent from previous years, according to the most recent National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) crash data.
- AAA deems the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day as “the 100 deadliest days” as statistics for traffic deaths caused by teen drivers skyrocket during this time.
- Teenage drivers, especially males ages 16-17, are responsible for more of these untimely deaths than young female drivers and distraction is a key factor.
- It remains a parent’s job to help new teen drivers reduce their risk of being responsible for property damage accidents, personal injuries, and even death by staying involved and leading by example as their child grows into a more experienced driver.
The “100 Deadliest Days” For Indiana’s Teen Drivers Begins
The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is often referred to as the “100 Deadliest Days” by road safety officials, emergency response crews, and police. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this timeframe when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year due to the summer break and more inexperienced drivers on the road. The following messages from the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles should help parents understand why inexperienced driver awareness is needed all year-round but especially during the summer break months.
- Young Age: Teenagers make more errors in judgment than other age groups. Be aware that teens are likely to drive differently and take more risks when an adult is not in the vehicle.
- Brain Development: Teens should be the world’s best drivers. Their muscles are well toned, their reaction time quick, their eye-hand coordination at a peak. Yet vehicle crashes kill more teens than any other cause — a problem, some researchers believe that is rooted in the adolescent brain.
- Risky Driving Behaviors: Teenagers may engage in risky driving behaviors like driving impaired by drugs or alcohol, running red and yellow lights, running stop signs, tailgating, weaving in and out of traffic, not keeping a safe distance for merging or changing lanes, misjudging gaps in traffic and misjudging the capability of their vehicles. Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
- Distractions: More than 50 percent of serious teen crashes are now believed to be caused by distractions and distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone, including texting. Not only does it increase the risk of a crash dramatically, it is against the law for any driver under the age of 21 to use a telecommunication device while driving unless making a 911 emergency call.
- Not Buckling Up:In 2015, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
- Operator Inexperience: Teenagers lack driving experience. Teens show the greatest improvement within the first year and 1,000 miles of driving. They continue to improve through their first 5,000 miles of driving.
In addition, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzes crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:
- 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
- 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
- 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
- 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash
When you mix all of these poor driving habits and those statistics together with more people traveling on highways, rural roads and city streets, it’s easy to understand why summer is a high crash season for not just teens drivers but all Hoosier road users.
Parents Can Help Reduce the Rise in Fatal Teen Crashes
In general, the number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data. Although the motor vehicle accident attorneys at Wagner Reese urge parents to play an active role in helping prevent these deadly crashes by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel, we believe it isn’t happening enough. Parents can help reduce the prevalence of these summertime accidents and ultimately assist in saving lives by coaching their teens to slow down, ignore distractions, and to avoid all temptations that point to risky driving. This includes speeding, texting while driving, and driving impaired by drugs and alcohol.
AAA has great resources and recommendations for parents to stay actively involved in coaching their teens through the learning-to-drive process including:
- Having conversations early and regularly about the dangers of speeding and distraction.
- Taking the time to practice driving with their teens in varying conditions.
- Adopting and enforcing a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for the road.
- Leading by example and minimizing distractions and speeding when they are driving.
We may not be able to accelerate our child’s accumulation of experience behind the wheel, but we can provide life-saving insight and education, and serve as an example by modeling good driving behaviors to reduce these tragic teen crash statistics for good.
Experienced Car Accident Attorneys in Indiana
The attorneys at Wagner Reese have more than 50 years of experience in representing people who have been through a difficult injury and accident experience. If you would like legal advice on an accident, our attorneys will review your information after you call us at (888) 204-8440 to schedule a free consultation. You can also share additional details with us by submitting our online form.