AAA Urges Teen Drivers to Stay Safe This Summer

By MJ Kneiser, WLHR Radio, Lavonia

The “100 deadliest days” for teen drivers are underway.

According to AAA, the “100 deadliest days” is the period when teen vehicle crash deaths historically climb.

Matt Nasworthy is the Traffic Safety Consultant with AAA.

“Crashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer months because teens drive more during this time of year. Over the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days” an average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers,” said Matt Nasworthy, Traffic Safety Consultant with AAA.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently released a follow-up study confirming that nearly 60 percent of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel.

Nasworthy said the latest report compared new crash videos with those captured from 2007 to 2012 and found consistent trends in the top three distractions for teens when behind the wheel in the moments leading up to a crash.

1. Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle: 15 percent of crashes
2. Talking, texting or operating a cell phone: 12 percent of crashes
3. Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: 11 percent of crashes

The third distraction, according to the study, was the driver attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle.

Researchers also found that how teens use their cell phone when behind the wheel had changed significantly over the course of the study.

In the moments leading up to a crash, teens were more likely to be texting or looking down at the phone than talking on it.

In preparation for the “100 Deadliest Days”, AAA encourages parents to educate their teen about the dangers of distracted driving and monitor their actions behind the wheel. Parents should:

1. Have conversations early and often about the dangers of distraction.
2. Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules against distracted driving.
3. Teach by example and minimize distractions when driving.

Nasworthy said that there, parents will find a variety of tools to help prepare them and their teens for the dangerous summer driving season.

The online AAA “StartSmart” program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.

Also, Nasworthy said teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches them how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.