Over the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when the number of crash fatalities involving a teen driver historically rise. New crash data from 2013-2017 reveals major factors contributing to fatal teen crashes during the summer driving period include:
- Speeding (28 percent)
- Drinking and driving (17 percent)
- Distraction (9 percent)
“Crash data shows that teens are a vulnerable driver group with a higher probability of being involved in crashes,” said Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “And while teens may make mistakes when first learning to drive, it is important to continue educating them about safety behind the wheel, so they avoid the reckless behaviors that put themselves and others at risk on the road.”
In California, teen driver fatalities (age 16-19) increased 12.3 percent from 98 in 2015 to 110 in 2016, according to the California Office of Traffic Safety’s latest statistics. Over this past Memorial Day holiday weekend teen driver crashes occurred on Santiago Canyon Road in Silverado and in Stevenson Ranch in Santa Clarita. The Silverado crash left the driver, 19, and one passenger, 17, dead. Two other teens were injured and are in critical condition. The Stevenson Ranch crash, which left three teens injured, occurred due to the driver speeding, according to the California Highway Patrol. Last summer teen crashes occurred in Los Angeles, Bakersfield, Desert Hot Springs, Escondido, Oceanside, South El Monte and San Diego.
AAA Foundation research found that nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel. Crashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer because teens are out of school and driving more. Over the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days”:
- An average of almost 700 people died each summer in crashes involving teen drivers.
- The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 15-18 was 17 percent higher per day compared to other days of the year.
“The carefree days of summer for teens are certainly not risk-free on the roads,” said Auto Club Community Affairs and Traffic Safety Manager Anita Lorz Villlagrana. “However, with education and parental involvement, we hope to prevent the kinds of tragedies involving young drivers that are more common during this dangerous time of year.”
Speeding significantly increases the severity of a crash and is a growing problem among teen drivers. In the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, half (49.7 percent) of teen drivers reported speeding on a residential street in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent say they sped on the freeway.
Despite the fact that teens cannot legally consume alcohol, one in six teen drivers involved in fatal crashes during the summer tested positive for alcohol.
Distraction- Underreported Problem
More than half of teen drivers (52 percent) in the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index report reading a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent report sending a text or email. It is difficult for law enforcement to detect distraction following a crash, which has made distracted driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.
The Auto Club has an ongoing initiative called, “Don’t Drive Intoxicated. Don’t Drive Intexticated.” The goal is to make smartphone use behind the wheel as socially unacceptable as alcohol-impaired driving. For more information about this initiative and on preventing distracted driving, visit www.AAA.com/DontDriveDistracted
The Auto Club offers Dare to Prepare workshops for parents and teens that provide both with information about the state’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) law and tips for navigating through the learning-to-drive process. Go to www.AAA.com/safety4teens to register for an upcoming Dare to Prepare workshop.
To keep teens safe on the roads this summer, AAA encourages parents to:
- Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
- Encourage teens to store phones out of reach or use the phone’s Do Not Disturb feature
- Tell teens to always obey speed limits
- Advise teens to stay away from impairing substances like alcohol and marijuana
- As a parent/guardian, teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. Details about the Auto Club Driving School can be found at www.AAA.com