Summertime is a time of freedom for many teenagers as school lets out and free time awaits. However, this time isn’t just one of fun and games. The time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is also known as the “100 Deadliest Days” for teens – and with good reason.
Since many teens don’t have other obligations to attend to, summer opens the possibility of heading out more often and enjoying activities with friends. For those of driving age, this time often involves bargaining with parents for the use of the car, many times alone.
Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group. Additionally, they are much more likely to suffer severe injury or die in those crashes, or cause the death of others. When it comes to the summer months, an average of 260 teens die per month. This rate is 26% times higher than other months of the year, thus the “100 Deadliest Days.”
Many Alabama car accidents are preventable by taking the proper precautions. When it comes to teen driving safety, encouraging the appropriate behavior should always be at the forefront of parents’ and instructors’ minds.
Knowing the Highest Risk Behaviors
While we should encourage all types of safe driving behavior, it’s especially important to teach teens to avoid the highest risk factors to help improve their chances of reaching their destination safely. In this age bracket, the two top driving distractions are other passengers and mobile phone use.
Though you may suspect phones are the leading cause of teen driver crashes, other passengers are actually the top distraction. Drivers engaging in conversation with their passengers takes away attention from the road. In addition, having other teens in the car can encourage risky behaviors. For teen drivers, the chances of being in an accident only increase with each additional passenger in the vehicle.
Talking or texting while driving contributes to the next highest percentage of teen crashes, for obvious reasons. The use of a phone takes hands from the wheel, eyes from the road, and your mind away from driving. Using a phone is a risk for any motorist, but teens who are still learning to control a vehicle put themselves at even greater risk of an accident when they reach for their phones.
Teens are also susceptible to the risks of impaired driving by alcohol or drugs, especially when peer pressure is involved. Teenagers need to understand that impaired driving isn’t just dangerous, it’s also a crime that can have severe consequences for their future.
Enforcing the Right Behaviors
For those responsible for teaching teenagers about driving, it’s essential to not only teach good driving habits, but to model them as well. That means no cell phone use when behind the wheel, no drinking/drugs and driving, and avoiding reckless behaviors. The “do as I say, not as I do” teaching method is rarely effective. Setting up a driving contract can help you enforce rules and keep treating driving as a privilege, not a right.
Empowering teenagers to make the right decisions is also important. Let your teen know that he or she can always call you if he or she ends up in a potentially dangerous driving situation, such as if a drunk friend is attempting to take the wheel. Proper intervention when someone is about to engage in a risky driving behavior is also a good skill to teach. Highway Safety Advocates’ Courage to Intervene promise is a good place to start.
Your teens want to enjoy their summer, and you want them to do so safely. By teaching appropriate habits and staying involved in teenagers’ lives, it’s possible to decrease the risk of the “100 Deadliest Days.”