Memorial Day is not only the unofficial start to the summer season, CNN also reports it is the beginning of what is commonly known as the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers. Although teen deaths in motor vehicle accidents have been on the decline for the past few decades, according to statistics from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teenagers generally face a higher risk of injury or death during the summer months when they are out of school.
During the 2012 summer season, an estimated 1,000 people lost their lives in car accidents involving teen drivers. More than half of those killed were teenagers themselves. In 2013, more teenagers died in vehicle-related accidents during June, July, and August than during any other month.
While accidents involving teen drivers can happen for any number of reasons, the significant increase in driving deaths during the summer is likely due to teens:
- Driving in areas they are not used to frequenting during the regular school year.
- Having teen passengers in their vehicle more often, which can pose a significant distraction and increase the risk of reckless driving behavior.
- Engaging in distracted driving behavior, such as talking or texting on a cell phone.
- Gaining access to alcohol and then driving while alcohol impaired.
- Driving after it gets dark, or during the late evening hours.
Safety Tips for Parents of Teen Drivers
Being the parent of a teen driver can be extremely stressful. You took the time to teach your teen driver safe driving skills, and you want to give your child the freedom he or she needs to become a responsible driver. You also want your child to enjoy the summer months, particularly now that he or she can drive.
The following are a few safety tips to help parents keep their teen drivers safe this summer:
- Make sure your child is driving a well-made vehicle with a high safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
- Require your teen driver, as well as any other passengers, wear a seat belt at all times.
- Educate your child on the dangers of distracted driving, and get his or her agreement to never text and drive or talk on either a hand-held or hands-free cell phone while driving.
- Take the time to get your child familiarized with the in-vehicle technology on the car. Be sure your teen driver knows how to operate the radio, GPS, and other systems to minimize the risk of distraction.
- Prohibit your teen driver from driving with more than one passenger under the age of 21. This is also a requirement for teen drivers under the age of 18, according to the Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program in Texas.
- Set a curfew for your child so that he or she does not drive between the hours of midnight and 5:00 a.m., unless it is an emergency.
- Enroll your teenager in an interactive, teen driver safety program so that he or she becomes a safe, confident and responsible driver. These programs can also significantly reduce the risk of serious or deadly accidents for teen drivers.
Technology to Monitor and Inhibit Cell Phone Use
In addition to having certain rules and restrictions in place for your teen driver this summer, you may also want to turn to technology to help you monitor and inhibit your teen’s cell phone use while driving. Consumer Reports indicates that the majority of cell phone providers have free apps that can be installed on your child’s phone. Some of the apps send alerts to parents when their teenager has turned on his or her cell phone while driving, and others inhibit cell phone use altogether.
- CNN: Parents, beware: These are the 100 deadliest days for teens
- Insurance Institute for Highway Safety: Teenagers
- Safercar.gov: Find and Compare Crash Test Safety Ratings
- Texas Department of Public Safety: Graduated Driver License (GDL) Program
- Consumer Reports: Apps that shut out distractions