When people think of the most dangerous season to be out on the roads, winter immediately comes to mind. Particularly for those of us who live in Northeast Ohio, icy, slippery roads and poor visibility during snowstorms can be quite dangerous.
However, summer is actually the most dangerous time to be on the road for teen drivers. People are more active in summer and they drive more due to vacationing and simply enjoying the weather. More people on the road equals more accidents. Summer is a great time for teens to kick back, have fun and relax, but relaxing is NOT something to do when they’re driving.
What are the 100 Deadliest Days?
Between the unofficial start of summer, Memorial Day, and Labor Day in September, there are 100 days. According to the website We Save Lives, during this time period the teen fatality crash rate spikes 26 percent compared to other months of the year, with an average of 260 teens killed every month.
For this reason, AAA has designated this time period as the 100 Deadliest Days on the Road. Teens are on their summer break and driving much more. Add to that the fact that too many of these teens are distracted behind the wheel. In fact, 60 percent of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving. Additionally, more teens will be traveling with extra passengers in their car, and other passengers are another top distraction for young, inexperienced drivers.
Safe Driving Tips for Your High School or College Student
Before handing over the keys, remind your teen about the basics of safe driving, including these tips:
- Don’t drive distracted. According to the CDC, drivers in their 20s make up 27% of all distracted drivers involved in fatal crashes. It’s important to focus solely on the road; no texting, snacking, applying makeup, or fiddling with mp3 players.
- Be extra aware of your surroundings. Summer means more pedestrians, more bicyclists, more road construction, more drivers on the road, more activity everywhere. Be extra vigilant this time of year and keep a close eye on everything around you.
- Check the tire pressure. Hot weather can cause the air inside your tires to expand, and if your wheels are getting worn out, this can easily lead to a blowout. Checking the air pressure in your tires more often over the warmer months is crucial to help avoid this.
- Check the radiator fluid. On a very hot day, your engine is at risk for overheating, especially if you’re blasting your air conditioning. Keep an eye on your sensors in case your engine is getting close to overheating. If you are starting to overheat, pull over to let your engine cool down.
- Watch your speed. The majority of accidents are caused by excessive speed or aggressive driving. Drive especially slowly through neighborhoods with children playing and pedestrian-heavy areas, and back up slowly out of driveways and parking spots.
- Prepare for weather hazards. In the summer you may not need to worry about icy roads or blowing snow, but you should still be prepared for the dangers of summer weather, like thunderstorms, high winds or bright sunlight and glare. Headlights should be used in the rain and you should have a spare set of sunglasses in the car at all times.
- Follow the rules of the road. The most fundamental of safe driving tips is simply to follow the rules; adhere to road signs, follow other cars at a safe distance, and never drive while impaired – or get in the car with someone who is.
After you have reminded your teen about these basics of safe driving, consider creating a “safe driving agreement.” AAA offers an example of what this type of document should include. For instance, the agreement should specifically spell out your driving rules and the consequences if any of these rules should be broken. Limiting unnecessary trips and nighttime driving, as well as absolutely restricting any sort of impaired driving should be key in any safe driving agreement.
Be sure to also give your teens permission and encouragement to call you if they are in a potentially bad driving situation with a friend who is driving under the influence or in a risky manner. Let them know you will pick them up without punishment or other negative repercussions in any of these situations.