Summer is deadly for teen drivers; AAA offers safety tips

The 101 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most deadly for teenaged drovers between the ages of 15 and 20, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The high number of deaths during the summer months of June through August are attributed to teens having free time on their hands and more opportunities to drive without adult supervision, reported AAA of Northern California. “Teens need to understand that freedom comes with responsibilities,” said Cynthia Harris, AAA Northern California spokesperson. “Keep communicating with your teen driver about the choices they make behind the wheel. Texting while driving, distractions created by teen passengers, drinking, and driving while drowsy lead to thousands of fatal teen crashes each summer. Get these issues out in the open and make your expectations clear.” Below is AAA’s list of 10 deadly mistakes teens make with tips on how to stay alive:
  1. Taking risks - Car crashes are the leading cause of injury and death for young people ages 15 to 20. And crashes impact everyone -- pedestrians, passengers, and other drivers, as well as their families. Don't do something you'll regret the rest of your life.
  2. Driving unbuckled - Use your seat belt and make sure all your passengers do the same. About two-thirds of teenagers killed in traffic collisions were not buckled in. Seat belt use reduces your chances of being injured or killed in a crash by 45 percent.
  3. Speeding – Obey the speed limit. One-third of teen fatalities involve excessive speed. Driving the speed limit reduces the severity of an unavoidable crash.
  4. Teen passengers - Don't chauffer your friends around. Having just one teen passenger in the car increases a 16- or 17-year-old driver’s risk of crashing by about 50 percent. Adding two or more teen passengers increases the crash risk fivefold.
  5. Cellular phones - Focus on driving not phone calls, text messaging, and other gadgetry. Using a cell phone while behind the wheel can double your reaction time.
  6. CD players – Learn to drive without a soundtrack. Studies show that tinkering with a radio is the most common distraction for drivers between the ages of 16 and 20.
  7. Nighttime cruising – Avoid driving late at night. Between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., teen crash rates are double daytime rates.
  8. DUI – Don’t drink and drive. One in six 16- and 17-year-olds who’ve died in crashes would have been considered legally drunk by adult standards.
  9. Peer pressure – Don’t be afraid to make good choices. Avoid getting into a car with someone you don’t trust or isn’t in the right frame of mind to drive. Speak up if the friend drives dangerously.
  10. Overconfidence – Inexperience combined with overconfidence leads to traffic collisions when new drivers are met with unfamiliar or unexpected situations.
“Parents should supervise and monitor their teen drivers – even after they get their license,” Harris said. For more teen driving tips, visit www.aaa.com/teensdrive.
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