Caution urged on roadways as summer travel heats up
Summer vacation season is here, and people are anxious to get on the road as states lift stay-at-home restrictions.
According to Drive Smart Virginia, the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is referred to as “the 100 Deadliest Days” on the roadway—particularly for teen drivers, who have the highest crash rate of any age group.
And this summer isn’t like others.
A combination of closed schools, limited activities, canceled summer jobs and lifted COVID-19 restrictions have led to traffic safety officials urging parents and teens to be extra vigilant.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reports that nationwide more than 8,300 people died in teen-related crashes during “the 100 Deadliest Days” from 2008 to 2018. That’s more than seven people a day each summer.
“Summer is one of the busiest and most dangerous times of year for car travel,” said Darlene Wells, executive vice president and general manager of Virginia Farm Bureau Mutual Insurance Co. and a board member for Drive Smart Virginia. “It’s important for everyone to pay attention and avoid distractions when driving so they can get to their destinations safely.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic and emergency declarations may have reduced traffic levels earlier this year, they’re starting to rise as traveler confidence increases.
According to Arrivalist’s Daily Travel Index, which uses GPS data to monitor road trips of 50 miles or more, car travel has increased each week since April. The Memorial Day weekend had the most dramatic uptick in 2020 road trips.
When it comes to summer vacation plans, many are avoiding cruises and airplanes, opting instead for road trips to popular destinations or to visit friends and family. A survey of 1,000 Americans by Longwoods International—a tourism research firm—revealed more than half have travel plans this summer with a strong emphasis on road trips.
To safely prepare for a summer road trip, AAA suggests packing hygiene, cleaning and disinfecting products and getting familiar with states’ COVID-19 restrictions. For safe summer driving, the foundation encourages parents to:
- Talk with teens early and often about dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
- Teach by example, and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Set a parent-teen driving agreement that establishes family rules for teen drivers.
- Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.