The unofficial start to summer has arrived ― the season for backyard barbecues, road trips, ball games and basking in the sun. But AAA Oklahoma reminds that the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is also a season of increased risk on the roadways, making those summer days the 100 Deadliest Days of the year.
More than 7,300 people died nationwide in crashes involving teen drivers from 2012 to 2021 during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s nearly half of the number of those killed in teen-driver crashes for the entire remaining months out of the year. In 2021 alone, 900 people were killed in teen-driver crashes, up from 851 the previous year ― a nearly 6% increase. The number killed in 2021 also represents a greater than 25% increase over pre-pandemic 2019. Often, the victims are passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles, making the roadways more dangerous for all.
“There are more daily deaths from crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months than the rest of the year because teens tend to have more unstructured time behind the wheel, as they commute to summer jobs, enjoy summertime activities and spend time with friends,”said Rylie Mansuetti, public affairs manager, AAA Oklahoma.“Unfortunately, as more teens take to the road over the summer, the results can be deadly. AAA recommends that parents take time now to both model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them as well.”
AAA encourages teen drivers to double down on staying focused when driving, buckling up for every ride and driving within posted speed limits. Parents should also talk to their teens specifically about the dangers of impaired driving.
In Oklahoma, 154 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers ages 15 to 18 during the 100 Deadliest Days from 2012 to 2021, representing 30% of all vehicle crash fatalities during that 10-year period.
Helping teen drivers keep roadways safe
According to the AAA Foundation 2021 Traffic Safety Culture Index, teen drivers ages 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:
- Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (39%)
- Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (34%)
- Texting (28%)
- Red-light running (27%)
- Aggressive driving (25%)
- Drowsy driving (16%)
- Driving without a seatbelt (12%)
- Drinking enough alcohol to be over the adult legal limit (4%)
- Riding in a car driven by someone who has had too much alcohol (8%)
- Driving within an hour of having used marijuana (6%)
In addition to modeling safe driving behaviors and talking to their teens about factors that can contribute to the risk of a crash, parents should also consider having their teens complete a comprehensive driver education course to learn the rules of the road.
“While they sometimes may not think so, parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Mansuetti.“It’s never too soon for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and alcohol and marijuana impairment. But they also need to model good driving behavior themselves.”
Source: AAA press release