Why teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination
Why are teen drivers more likely to be involved in dangerous or even deadly car crashes in the summer than any other time of year? Here’s a four-word answer from our safety partner AAA about why teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination…
School’s out for summer!
Overall, car crash risks increase for all age brackets from June through August. That’s because more drivers are on the road traveling to or from vacation spots. However, the risk that a teen driver will crash is especially high during the summer months.
In fact, the spike is so significant that AAA coined the term “The 100 Deadliest Days” to describe the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. According to AAA spokesperson Skyler McKinley, during summer months, 10 people die across the country every day due to teen crashes. So, what accounts for this spike and what can parents do to help keep their teen drivers safe?
Why teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination
Summertime and the living is easy, right? So, how can such a happy, sunny season also be deadly? In winter months, teens may spend hours playing video games until their thumbs fall off. When the temp heats up, so does their desire to get out and about. With friends in the car. And they’re not experienced drivers. Below are the reasons why teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination.
More free time
Think about it for a second. During the school year, your teenager probably drives to and from school during the weekdays. He may visit a friend or two over the weekend, but the bulk of his driving is going to school.
When the last bell rings to herald in the highly anticipated summer break, your teen suddenly has a lot more time on his hands. That means he will more likely be on the road looking for fun and adventure. This added driving time is the #1 reason why teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination.
Your teen not only has more free time in the summer, but so do all of his buddies. A single teen passenger in a car with a teen driver increases the risk for a crash by 44 percent. As explained by McKinley, in 15 percent of fatal summertime crashes involving a teen driver, the driver was distracted by a passenger. Extra passengers in the car is the #2 reason why teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination.
Inexperience of new drivers
Your teen may be comfortable driving the same route to school and back home every day. In the summer, he may want to drive to the amusement or water park. He’s not a bad driver at all, just an inexperienced one. That inexperience means he’s not always equipped to handle risks as well as older drivers. So, while your teen may be tempted to hop on one of the major highways in Atlanta, it might not be the best decision if he doesn’t have much Interstate driving experience.
So, what’s a concerned parent to do?
The facts are in. Teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination. So, what can YOU, the concerned parent, do to help keep your teen safe? Below are a few tips from Drive Smart Georgia.
Practice driving more
Your teen might have her license, but that doesn’t mean she ready to hop on I-85, I-285 or I-75 quite yet. Take a few practice trips with your teen on some of Atlanta’s busiest highways so that she can gain more experience and confidence before making a solo journey.
Set a good example
If you don’t want your teen driver to speed, then don’t do it yourself. Your new driver is still watching everything YOU do, so set a good example by putting the phone in the glove box obeying all traffic laws. You might now think your teen watches and listens, but they do. They really do.
Follow Joshua’s Law
Joshua’s Law was passed in the state of Georgia in 2005 to help keep teen drivers safer on the road, despite a multitude of new and ever-present dangers. So, exactly what is Joshua’s Law? What are its restrictions for teen drivers? Be sure to check out this in-depth article about the all-important law in Georgia and 16 other states. Make sure your teen driver follows it to the T.
Limit nighttime driving
The fatal crash rate for teens doubles at night. At nightfall, ordinary risks are magnified by the darkness. In Georgia, a new teen driver must have at least six hours of night driving experience before getting a driver’s license. After they have it, the state imposes a 12 midnight – 6 am curfew on drivers age 16-17.
Tell your teen to avoid ALL distractions
While texting and talking on a cell phone are certainly driving distractions, there are many more to avoid. Eating and drinking, talking to passengers, grooming, finding a radio station, using a navigation system, or watching a video all cause the driver to take eyes off the road. Make sure your new teen driver knows about ALL driver distractions and the possible consequences.
Monitor your teen driver
Stay engaged with your teens’ driving habits. An NSC survey found many parents are more inclined to loosen household driving rules during the summer.
Consider a Teen-Parent Driving Agreement
Because teen drivers and summer can be a deadly combination, now is the perfect time to consider introducing a Teen-Parent Safety Agreement. Before signing it, discuss that unsupervised driving is a privilege that comes with a set of rules and regulations.
It’s important to address issues like nighttime driving and the number of passengers allowed in the car. Setting up driving rules and consequences not only drives safety home, but a signed contract can also add to your own peace of mind. Check out this one from AAA .
The violations and consequences are entirely up to you. It’s important to get buy-in from your new driver. This can go a long way to ensure a safe, stress-free summer for new teen drivers and their concerned parents – LIKE YOU!
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