School’s out, and that means more teenage drivers on the road making the roads less safe ‘ and there will be more car accidents caused by teenage drivers.

The’ AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety calls the period between Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September the ‘100 Deadliest Days.’ Crashes involving teen drivers ‘increase significantly during the summer because teens are out of school and driving more.’

But, it’s not necessarily negligent or reckless teen drivers who get hurt in summer car accidents. ‘AAA Foundation research found that nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel.’ Unfortunately, it is often teenage passengers injured in crashes caused by teen drivers.

In its May 30 news release, the AAA Foundation says new crash data from 2013-2017 reveals major factors contributing to fatal teen crashes during the summer driving period include:

  • Speeding (28 percent)
  • Drinking and driving (17 percent)
  • Distraction (9 percent).

Over the past five years, according to the AAA Foundation:

  • During the 100 Deadliest Days each year, an average of almost 700 people died in crashes involving teen drivers.
  • The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 15-18 during the summer was 17 percent higher per day compared to other days of the year.

According to additional AAA Foundation research:

  • Speeding: Half of teen drivers (49.7 percent) reported speeding on a residential street in the prior 30 days and nearly 40 percent said they speed on the freeway.
  • Drinking and Driving: One in six teen drivers (16.6 percent) involved in fatal crashes during the summer tested positive for alcohol.
  • Distracted Driving: More than half of teen drivers (52 percent) reported reading a text message or email while driving in the prior 30 days and nearly 40 percent reported sending a text or email.’ Additionally, in-vehicle dash-cams of teen driver crashes found distraction was involved in 58 percent of teen crashes, approximately four times as many as federal estimates.

Teen Drivers at Greater Risk of Car Accidents Year-Round

Unfortunately, general teen driving statistics are just as disturbing at the AAA Foundation’s findings about summer driving.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. Per mile driven, teen drivers age 16 to 19 are nearly three times more likely than drivers age 20 and older to be in a fatal crash.

Crash risk is particularly high during the first months’a teenager has a driver’s license. And the presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. Another AAA Foundation study says a single teen passenger increases a teen driver’s crash risk by’44 percent. The risk only gets worse as the number of teen passengers increases.

According to the CDC:

  • Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the rear of the next).
  • At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teens than for older drivers. In 2016, 15 percent of drivers aged 16 to 20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08 percent or higher.
  • In 2017, 9 percent of all teen motor vehicle crash deaths involved distracted driving.
  • Compared with other age groups, teens have some of the lowest rates of seat belt use. In 2017, only 59 percent of high school students reported they always wear seat belts when riding as passengers.

Here in Kentucky, teenage drivers account for approximately 7 percent of licensed drivers (including learner permits), says a 2017 Kentucky Transportation Center Research Report from the University of Kentucky. However, crash data shows that teenage drivers were involved in about 15 percent of all crashes, 18 percent of injury crashes, and 9 percent of fatal crashes.

Put another way, teenage drivers in Kentucky are overrepresented by a factor of 2.1 in all crashes, 2.6 for injury crashes, and 1.3 in fatal crashes.

Tips for a Teen Driver’s Safe Summer

Teenage drivers are less experienced than adults, making them more likely to cause a car accident. However, any teen can take steps to lessen their chance of causing an accident.

“Teens should prepare for summer driving by practicing safety during every trip,” Dr. Bill Van Tassel, AAA Manager of Driver Training Programs, says in ‘100 Deadliest Days‘. “Storing your phone out of reach, minding the speed limit, and staying away from impairing substances like alcohol and marijuana will help prevent many crashes from ever occurring.”

Another type of impairment that drivers face, and one that is especially dangerous for teens, is fatigued or drowsy driving, the National Safety Council (NSC) says. Teens should have 8 hours of sleep every night. One study indicated that having only 6 hours of sleep is enough to increase the crash risk for a teen.

The NSC also says, ‘the’safety research is clear: For the first six months after teens get their license, new teen drivers shouldn’t have ‘any’ young passengers.’

In case there is an accident, wear a seat belt. The CDC says research shows that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by about half.

Talk to a KY Car Accident Attorney About a Teen’s Crash

Getting a driver’s license and driving on your own is a rite of passage into adulthood that all teens look forward to. But with privilege comes responsibility. Teen drivers must learn safe driving techniques or face the consequences, just like adults.

If you or your teen have been seriously injured in an accident caused by a teenage driver who may have been negligent or reckless, talk to Becker Law Office about holding them responsible. We may be able to help you obtain compensation through their (or their parents’) auto insurance for your injuries and other losses.