AAA: 100 deadliest days for teen drivers have begun

Published 5:45 pm Friday, June 2, 2023

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Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer and a dangerous time of year for young drivers. Nationwide, more than 30 percent of deaths involving teen drivers occur during what’s called the “100 Deadliest Days” – a period that runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

“Summer is historically a dangerous time for teen drivers,” said Gene LaDoucer, regional director of public affairs for AAA-The Auto Club Group. “Now that school is out, teens will spend more time on the road, often driving with friends at different times of day and night. Because of their inexperience, teens are more susceptible to dangerous driving behaviors – like speeding, driving distracted, and not wearing a seat belt. AAA urges parents to model safe driving behavior and reinforce safe driving habits with their teen drivers to help keep them safe this summer.”

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens ages 16-19. For every mile driven, recently licensed teen are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults.

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An average of 2,108 teens are involved in deadly crashes every year and 660 of those occur during the 100 Deadliest Days.

These crashes result in an average of 2,341 deaths per year, with 732 of those fatalities occurring during that same period.

In Minnesota on average, 27 teen drivers age 15-18 are involved in fatal crashes each year. Of these crashes there are an average of 30 deaths per year.

Understanding the risks and knowing the facts will prepare both you and your teen for the road ahead:

• Distracted driving. Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of ten teen crashes. Electronics like cell phones and in-vehicle infotainment systems are considered the second-biggest distraction to teen drivers. The biggest distractions are teen passengers.

• Driving with teen passengers. Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash increases in direct relation to the number of teenagers in a car (NHTSA). Having other passengers in the car can contribute to peer pressure and the impulse to engage in dangerous habits like speeding and aggressive driving.

• Speeding. Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers.

Not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.

“The single most important thing parents can do to help their teens become safe drivers is to be involved in their ‘learning to drive’ process,” said Rachel Wilson, Director of Driver Education Programs, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Spend time coaching your teen while they’re behind the wheel and have a serious discussion about safety. While parents can be a great teacher, it also helps to seek out professional training courses, like those provided by AAA.”