As the summer driving season unofficially kicks off, officials with AAA are cautioning Connecticut parents as well as teenagers that distracted driving can be fateful as the “100 Deadliest Days” begin.
AAA said that June is the "deadliest" month for teen drivers in Connecticut, with the most cases of crashes in any month between 2015 and 2019, according to the UConn Crash Data Repository.
Nationally, more than 8,300 people died in teen-related summertime crashes between 2008 and 2018, representing more than seven people a day each summer, research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found.
Between Memorial Day and Labor Day 2019, more than 3,300 teen drivers were involved in crashes statewide, equivalent to one teen driver crash every 42 minutes. Six of 12 fatally injured teen drivers in Connecticut were also killed during that period.
Speed, reckless driving, failure to yield rights of way, and the inability to lanes are all contributing factors to teen deaths, AAA said.
According to the AAA Foundation, research also found for every mile driven, new teen drivers, between 16 and 17 years of age, are three times more likely to be involved in deadly crashes compared to adults.
The most common forms of distraction leading up to a crash by a teen driver are interacting with passengers (15 percent) and using cell phones (12 percent), researchers noted. Previous research indicated that teen passengers and cell phones can increase the crash risk for teen drivers.
On average, teen drivers using a cell phone took their eyes off of the road in the moments leading up to a crash. They also failed to react more than half of the time before a rear-end collision.
“As teens hit the road this summer, a combination of closed schools, curtailed activities, canceled summer jobs and eased Covid-19 restrictions could very well contribute to teen crashes,” AAA Northeast spokeswoman Fran Mayko noted. “Couple these elements with behind-the-wheel inexperience and we find teen drivers are a much higher risk on the road than other age groups.”
AAA Foundation Executive Director Dr. David Yang added; "The last decade of crash data shows teens continue to be over-represented in crashes, and summertime marks an increase of fatal crashes for this age group.”
To keep roads safer this summer, AAA is encouraging 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 agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers;
- Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.
“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” AAA’s Director of State Relations Jennifer Ryan said. “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.”
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