The three-month period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” of summer. Why? Fatal accidents involving teen drivers happen much more frequently. Statistics reveal that 700 people are killed in car accidents involving teen drivers every year during this stretch of time.
Why are the summer months particularly dangerous for teen drivers? Since teens aren’t in school in the summer, they have more time for themselves. They also have more time to spend behind the wheel.
Research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that there are three primary reasons: alcohol, distractions, and speed.
Alcohol and Teen Drivers
According to AAA, 17 percent of fatal teen driving accidents involve drugs or alcohol. In fact, one study found that one out of every six teens given a breathalyzer or blood test after a fatal crash had some level of alcohol in their system.
Those are just the accidents that kill the driver, passenger, or third party. Alcohol is also a factor in tens of thousands of accidents involving teen drivers that aren’t deadly.
There’s no state in the country where it’s legal for teenagers to purchase or consume alcohol. California has a zero-tolerance policy for teen drinking and driving. A teenager can get a DUI if their BAC is .01 percent or greater. No accidents involving teens should also involve alcohol.
Unfortunately, teens drink more in the summer months. They want to kick back and relax with a cool drink in the hot weather. However, teens aren’t capable of metabolizing alcohol as efficiently as an adult. They’re also less aware of the effect a few drinks will have on their mind and body. As a result, they may not think twice before getting behind the wheel.
Distractions Are a Problem For Teen Drivers
Young people are obsessed with technology. It seems to permeate every aspect of their lives. Unfortunately, teens aren’t putting the phone down before hitting the road. One study found that 52 percent of teens admit to checking a text or email while operating a motor vehicle. Another 40 percent admit to sending a text or email while driving.
The NHTSA explains that it takes about 5 seconds to check a text or email. If you’re behind the wheel, you can drive up to 100 yards – or the length of a football field – while driving 55 MPH. That’s a lot of distance to cover without watching where you’re going.
AAA reports that distractions are reported in 58 percent of all accidents involving teen drivers. These are only the distractions caught on camera by dash-cam videos in a controlled study. The number of teens using phones while driving is likely much higher.
Speed is Responsible For Many Fatal Teen Crashes
There’s something thrilling about getting your license and having freedom on the open road. About half of all teens surveyed admitted to speeding on a residential road. The number of teens who speed on highways and interstates is probably much higher. Unfortunately, that thrill causes a lot of teen drivers to get into serious accidents. Speed is a factor in about 28 percent of all fatal teen crashes.