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Summer months bring increased risk for teen drivers

AAA of Western and Central New York

The warm-weather months have arrived and many nervous parents are hoping their teenagers will avoid the temptations of distracted driving in what AAA calls the 100 Deadliest Days of the year.“The AAA Foundation for traffic safety did some new research regarding the 100 deadliest days,” said Elizabeth Carey, a Public Affairs Manager at AAA. “That’s the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of teen driver deadly crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year.”

Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people died in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days.” Carey said that because teen drivers are so inexperienced, they are far more likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

"Teen drivers, ages 16 to 17 years old, are about four times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash,” said Carey. “And they are about two-and-a-half times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash.”

The number of fatal teen crashes is on the rise, up 10 percent from the previous findings according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration 2015 crash data.

If a teen needs help avoiding the distractions that come with smartphones, Carey offers a simple solution.

“Take those cell phones, put them in the trunk of the car where you cannot get your hands on them and keep your eyes on the road,” she suggests.

Carey says there is also a role parents can play to help keep their kids safe on the roads.

“It’s really up to parents to be good role models,” said Carey. “If kids see their parents texting while they’re driving, they think it’s ok and they’re going to do the same thing. You really need to educate the young drivers in your household about safety and you really need to be a good role model. Stay off your phone, and buckle your seatbelt, so that they can see that’s proper behavior behind the wheel.”

Credit Elizabeth Carey/AAA
Elizabeth Carey/AAA
Law enforcers, elected officials, and representatives from AAA and AT&T gathered in Williamsville Thursday to discuss AAA's "100 Deadliest Days" campaign.

Distractions play a role in nearly six out of every 10 crashes. The top distractions for teens include talking with other passengers in the vehicle or interacting with a smartphone.

Carey said that even though people know this is a problem, some still fall into temptation.

“A lot of people realize this is bad, and they realize distracted driving is a problem,” said Carey. “They consider it a growing problem and they consider it a safety concern, but people are still doing it because they’re tempted to do it. So just avoiding that temptation and keeping everyone safe will go a long way.”

AAA is also reminding teens to buckle up. Teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a seatbelt 60 percent of the time, according to recent data.

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