Parents of teenagers who are of driving age understand that a newly-minted Texas driver’s license adds another layer of worry to their minds about the safety of their teens. But few may realize the true dangers summertime poses for young and inexperienced drivers.
The organization We Save Lives, a non-profit dedicated to promoting safer driving via programs and policies designed to alter dangerous driving behaviors, reminds parents that the nation is currently in the midst of the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.”
The approximate 100-day period begins in late May with Memorial Day and ends in early September after Labor Day. This time is particularly dangerous for teenagers for a few reasons.
Risk factors rise
Teens take to the roads in droves during the summer months. Whether it’s road-tripping to music festivals with friends or spending lazy days soaking up sun on Gulf Coast beaches, teens make plenty of summer plans involving driving.
Even when teenagers are occupied with summer jobs, in the greater Houston area, that usually involves driving as well.
There is also an intrinsic hedonism surrounding hot summer days and humid nights. Otherwise responsible teenagers can be tempted by peer pressure to experiment with alcohol and drugs at unsupervised parties or overnights with friends.
Statistics don’t lie
Collisions are the primary cause of death for teenagers. This age group has the highest rates of accidents for drivers of all ages.
Each year, roughly 260 teenagers die as a result of auto accidents over the summer months, an uptick of 26 percent in comparison with the rest of the year.
Research has led to the discovery that distracted driving causes 60 percent of collisions involving teens. Parents might assume that talking and texting on smartphones is the number one distraction for teenagers. While these behaviors behind the wheel account for 12 percent of teen-involved accidents, the prime distraction is having other passengers riding with them in the vehicle.
Teenagers are not just endangering themselves and other teen passengers. According to Newsday, teens lead the nation in collisions that kill pedestrians and drivers and passengers in other vehicles.
What can parents do to promote safety?
Communication is key with teen drivers, as they are not likely to devote their time to reading scary statistics. Make your teen aware of the dangers they both pose and face while on the road in summer.
Implement and enforce rules for teen drivers, such as limiting the number of passengers, restricting cellphone usage while driving and remaining sober and in control whenever driving is involved.
Let your teen know that there are definitely consequences for breaking rules, but also remain approachable. A teen who is too frightened of parental reactions is more likely to ride with an impaired driver after attending a party or other venue where alcohol or drugs were flowing freely.
Let your teen know that you will come and get them any time and anywhere they may be rather than have them drive drunk or ride with an impaired friend. Promise them no lectures that night, then address the matter later when cooler heads prevail.
Be proactive after an accident
If your teen gets injured in an accident that is caused by another at-fault driver, you may need to file a claim with the liable party’s insurance company.
If they fail to honor the claim or low-ball their settlement offer, you may need to retain the services of a personal injury attorney in the greater Houston area who will aggressively pursue a settlement or judgment for your teen’s injuries and other losses.