The summer days bookended between Memorial Day and Labor Day are collectively known as the “100 deadliest days” for teenage drivers. A spokesperson for AAA noted that collisions involving teen drivers jump up 15 percent during this summer period.
It’s easy to understand why. Summer days and nights are times of unfettered freedom for those of high school age and beyond. Schools are out and the kids can daytrip to the Gulf with friends or hang out at the local mall.
Even those who work summer jobs contribute to the influx of teens behind the wheel as they travel to and from work and social engagements.
Risk factors for wrecks
Teens increase the likelihood of their being hurt or killed in auto accidents when they do these three things:
- Don’t wear seat belts
- Get distracted behind the wheel
The AAA spokesperson further warned teens that “[t]aking your eyes off the road for just [two] seconds doubles your risk for a crash, but when you factor in an inexperienced teen driver who’s not used to being behind the wheel … your chance for a crash dramatically increases.”
Parents can decrease their kids’ risk of becoming summer statistics by setting good examples while driving. Wear your own seat belt — even for short trips. Don’t text or talk on your cellphone. Teach your teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and the hazards of speeding.
Driving is a privilege
Remind the kids that driving is a privilege, not a right. Reinforce to them that reckless behavior — behind the wheel or otherwise — can result in their driving privileges being suspended formally for infractions or informally by parents.
Get to know the friends with whom your children ride. Are they safe drivers and responsible teens or likely to lead your kids astray? A little oversight from a plugged-in parent can go a long way in helping teens stay on the right track this summer (and beyond).
Be your child’s safety advocate
Even the safest drivers can be involved in accidents, however. Make sure that your young driver understands that all accidents have to be reported to ensure that auto insurance coverage remains uninterrupted.
If your minor teen gets hurt in a collision with an at-fault driver or as a guest passenger in another teen’s vehicle, you will need to step in and manage any ensuing claims for injuries and other damages.