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COVID restrictions easing as ‘100 Deadliest Days’ begin for teen drivers

aaaNationwide, more than 7,000 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2010 to 2019 during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

That’s more than seven people a day each summer, compared to the rest of the year (six people per day). The combination of schools closed for the summer, summer jobs and activities, and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, could prove deadly as teens take to the road this summer.

AAA recommends that now is a good time for parents to both model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them too.

“There are more daily deaths in crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months than the rest of the year because teens tend to have more unstructured time behind the wheel,” said Morgan Dean, Senior Specialist in public and government affairs for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “So what can be done? We can encourage teens to double down on staying focused when driving, buckling up for every ride, and driving within posted speed limits.”

In Virginia

  • More than 140 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days” from 2010 to 2019.
  • More than 125 teen drivers were involved in a fatal crash during the “100 Deadliest Days” from 2010 to 2019.
  • Nearly half of the 244 teen fatalities on Virginia roads from 2015-2019 were speed related. (FARS,GHSA)
  • With fewer cars on the road and fewer miles driven during the pandemic in 2020, crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days” decreased by 60%, but fatalities from those crashes only decreased by 21% compared to 2019.  During that time period in 2020, 15 of the 30 fatalities were teenagers. (DMV)

Due to their inexperience, teen drivers are at a higher risk of crashes. According to the AAA Foundation 2019 Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72% of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:

  • Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47%)
  • Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
  • Texting (35%)
  • Red-light running (32%)
  • Aggressive driving (31%)
  • Drowsy driving (25%)
  • Driving without a seatbelt (17%)

As teens take to the road this summer, especially with pandemic restrictions easing, AAA recommends that now is an excellent time to remind parents to model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them too.  Parents should also consider having their teens complete a comprehensive driver education course to learn the rules of the road.

“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Dean. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But we can’t just tell teens about the dangers. We must also refrain from engaging in risky driving behaviors and ensure we are modeling good behavior.”

To keep roads safer 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.
  • Teach by example, and minimize risky behavior when driving.
  • Establish a parent-teen driving agreementthat sets family rules for teen drivers.
  • Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.

Augusta Health Augusta Free Press Kris McMackin CPA
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