Over the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when the number of crash fatalities involving a teen driver historically rise.
New crash data from 2013 through 2017 reveals major factors contributing to fatal teen crashes during the summer driving period include:
- Speeding (28 percent)
- Drinking and driving (17 percent)
- Distraction (9 percent)
AAA is partnering with Sprint to spread the word to parents and teens about safe driving this summer.
"Crash data shows that teens are a vulnerable driver group with a higher probability of being involved in crashes," Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety said. "While teens may make mistakes when first learning to drive, it is important to continue educating them about safety behind the wheel, so they avoid the reckless behaviors that put themselves and others at risk on the road.”
AAA Foundation research found that nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel. Crashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer because teens are out of school and driving more.
Over the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days”:
- An average of almost 700 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers.
- The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 15 to 18 was 17 percent higher per day compared to other days of the year.
- Reckless behavior such as drinking and driving, speeding and distraction are contributing to the alarming number of crash deaths involving teen drivers each summer.
Speeding significantly increases the severity of a crash and is a growing problem among teen drivers. In the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, half (49.7 percent) of teen drivers reported speeding on a residential street in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent say they sped on the freeway.
Drinking and Driving
Despite the fact that teens cannot legally consume alcohol, one in six teen drivers involved in fatal crashes during the summer tested positive for alcohol.
Distraction – Under-reported Problem
More than half of teen drivers (52 percent) in the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index report reading a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent report sending a text or email. It is difficult for law enforcement to detect distraction following a crash, which has made distracted driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.
Additional AAA Foundation research using in-vehicle dash-cam videos of teen driver crashes found distraction was involved in 58 percent of teen crashes, approximately four times as many as federal estimates.
"As the dangerous summer driving period begins, AAA encourages parents to educate their teens and themselves about risky driving behavior," Marie Dodds, public affairs director for AAA Oregon said. "Parents are key when it comes to keeping teen drivers and everyone else safe behind the wheel.”
AAA encourages parents to:
- Talk with teens early and often about dangerous behaviors behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving. Buckle your seat belt, follow speed limits, put your phone away and ditch other distractions while driving.
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
"Remind your kids often that safety is the most important thing when behind the wheel and that they should store their phones out of reach, mind the speed limit and stay away from impairing substances such as alcohol and marijuana before driving," Dodds said. "Following these guidelines will help prevent many crashes from ever occurring."