What Makes the 100 Days of Summer Deadly for Teen Drivers?June 9, 2020
Summer does not officially start until June 21st, but the Memorial Day weekend is generally considered the unofficial start of the summer season. As beaches, lakes, parks, and other outdoor destinations are starting to reopen to the public, teen drivers are particularly excited to get out of the house and hit the road. Ideally, the COVID-19–related restrictions will continue to lessen, and life will eventually return to normal. However, the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day, also known as the 100 Deadliest Days, is known for an increase in serious car accidents, particularly those involving teen drivers. Parents are urged to discuss the common causes of teen-related car accidents, review important safety practices, and encourage their teen drivers to make safe choices when they get behind the wheel.
Why is There an Increase in Car Accidents During the Summer?
Most people associate summer with family vacations, outdoor cookouts, and trips to the beach. Although this is true, there is an unfortunate downside to the summer season of which all motorists should be aware, particularly teen drivers and their parents. The number of car accidents involving teen drivers often peaks during the summer. In fact, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the average number of fatal car accidents involving teen drivers increases by 15 percent during the summer, compared to the rest of the year. The following are common reasons why more car accidents involving teen drivers occur during the summer months:
- School is over for the summer. Depending where you live, summer break starts somewhere between late May and early June and resumes in early September. With school out for the summer, there are more inexperienced teen drivers on the roads. This summer is unique as a result of the number of activities that have been cancelled and summer jobs that are not available because of the pandemic. Teens who have free time on their hands and are anxious about returning to some semblance of normalcy are at risk of being involved in a serious accident if they fail to make safety a priority.
- More people taking road trips. Assuming families will still be able to go on the vacations they planned prior to the pandemic, there will be significantly more cars on the roads and highways across the country over the next few months. Statistically speaking, accidents are more likely to occur when there are more drivers on the road, which increases the risk of car accidents that involve teen drivers.
- Inclement weather conditions. Summer is known primarily for warm, sunny days and clear blue skies. However, when a summer storm starts brewing, it can be quite severe. This can make driving conditions treacherous, particularly for inexperienced teen drivers. Although it is important for teen drivers to understand the risks of driving during these conditions, they must also understand that even light rain, or a quick sun shower, can increase the risk of a car accident if it causes the roads to become slick.
- Rising temperatures. There are several ways that extremely hot weather can impact driver safety. For example, the engine can overheat if the vehicle is not properly maintained. Constant use of the air conditioner can put a strain on the vehicle as well. In addition, when the air inside the tires expands because of the heat, this can lead to a dangerous blowout, particularly if the tires are worn. Teen drivers may be less likely to understand the effects that heat can have on their vehicle and may not take the proper safety precautions.
- Increased road work. Most road work is done during the summer to avoid working outside during the colder winter months. As a result, there are often road closures, which results in an increased amount of traffic and unexpected detours. Unfortunately, accidents in work zones are quite common during the summer. Teen drivers who may not be paying attention to the signs alerting motorists of road work ahead can cause rear-end collisions, or even more serious accidents that cause severe, even fatal injuries to other motorists, or the construction workers.
Statistics About Teen-Related Accidents
Teens drivers are at an increased risk for being involved in a car accident simply because they are not experienced drivers. The more experience a driver has behind the wheel, the better he or she can handle a range of scenarios, from driving during inclement weather to safely navigating a busy highway during heavy traffic. The 100 Deadliest Days of Summer are particularly dangerous for teen drivers for the following reasons:
- Car accidents are the leading cause of death among teens.
- Teens have the highest crash rate compared with drivers in all other age groups.
- Distracted driving is responsible for approximately 60 percent of car accidents involving teen drivers.
- Fifteen percent of distracted driving accidents involving teen drivers are caused by distractions from other passengers, compared to 12 percent caused by texting or talking on their cell phones.
- Teen drivers are more likely to be killed in a car accident, and they have the highest rate of crashes that cause fatalities involving other passengers.
What are the Most Common Causes of Teen-Related Accidents?
Teenagers are known for testing boundaries, taking risks without considering the consequences, and exerting their new-found independence. Unfortunately, there are times when these behaviors can have devastating consequences. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, two-thirds of the roughly 700 people who are injured or killed in car accidents each year involve a teen driver. Below are examples of common causes of car accidents that involve teen drivers:
- Speeding: When a driver is exceeding the posted speed limit, he or she can significantly increase the severity of the crash. A recent survey found that close to half of teen drivers who participated in the survey admitted to speeding on a residential street within the past 30 days, and 40 percent said that they sped on the freeway.
- Drunk driving: Teenagers are legally prohibited from consuming alcohol, yet one in six teen drivers who were involved in a fatal car accident during the summer months tested positive for alcohol.
- Distracted driving: There is no question that distracted driving is a problem among teen drivers. During the summer months, it is likely that more teens will be driving with several friends in the vehicle. More passengers in the car at one time can cause the driver to be easily distracted. In addition, the survey found that over half of the teen drivers who participated reported that they read a text or email within the past 30 days, and close to 40 percent admitted to sending a text or an email while driving. Unfortunately, distracted driving is one of the most underreported traffic safety issues because it is difficult for law enforcement to determine whether it was the cause of an accident.
What Can Parents Do to Keep Their Teen Drivers Safe?
Parents play an important role in helping their teen drivers stay safe behind the wheel during the summer, as well as the rest of the year. The AAA Foundation offers the following advice for parents of teen drivers:
- Teach by example. Put the phone away, particularly when your teen driver is in the car with you. Teen drivers are less likely to heed a parent’s advice about texting while driving if they see their parents doing it on a regular basis. Unfortunately, according to the National Safety Council, over 90 percent of parents admitted that they use their cell phone in front of their teen drivers. Parents should obey the rules of the road and keep their attention focused on the road and their immediate surroundings.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Talk to teen drivers early and often about making safety a priority and avoiding dangerous behavior. Explain the consequences that one bad decision can have. A Ford Motor Survey found that teens who have regular, open conversations with parents about important issues are more likely to make safe choices and avoid risky behavior, such as drinking and driving.
- Create a parent-teen driving contract. Parents should clearly define what is expected of the teen driver and discuss, in detail, the teen’s driving responsibilities and privileges, and what the consequences will be if the teen breaks the contract.
Baltimore Car Accident Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Teen-Related Car Accidents
If you were injured in a car accident during the summer months, contact the Baltimore car accident lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will hold the negligent party responsible for your injuries and seek the maximum financial compensation you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.
Our offices are conveniently located in Baltimore, Columbia, Glen Burnie and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel County, Carroll County, Harford County, Howard County, Montgomery County, Prince George’s County, Queen Anne’s County, Maryland’s Western Counties, Southern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of Catonsville, Essex, Halethorpe, Middle River, Rosedale, Gwynn Oak, Brooklandville, Dundalk, Pikesville, Parkville, Nottingham, Windsor Mill, Lutherville, Timonium, Sparrows Point, Ridgewood and Elkridge.