As state restrictions related to COVID-19 ease and businesses begin to re-open, more drivers are hitting the roads in Ohio. Unfortunately, it's happening during the deadliest time of the year for teen drivers.
It happens every summer
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified the time from Memorial Day to Labor Day as the "100 Deadliest Days" for crashes involving teen drivers. Their research found that during that stretch of time, more than 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018 - that's more than seven people a day each summer.
According to the CDC, factors that put teen drivers at risk include:
- Inexperience: Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate or not be able to recognize dangerous situations. Teens are also more likely than adults to make critical decision errors that lead to serious crashes.
- Speeding: Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow shorter headways (the distance from the front of one vehicle to the front of the next).
- Seatbelt Use: Compared with other age groups, teens and young adults often have the lowest seatbelt use rates. In 2017, only 58.8% of high school students always wore seat belts when riding as passengers. Among young drivers ages 15-20 who died in car crashes in 2017, almost half were unrestrained at the time of the crash (when restraint use was known).
- Alcohol Use: In 2017, 15% of drivers ages 16-20 involved in fatal motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of .08% or higher (a level that is illegal for adults ages 21 and older in all states, except Utah, which has a BAC limit of .05).
- Nighttime and Weekend Driving: In 2017, 40% of motor vehicle crash deaths among teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m., and 51% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.
Teens engage in risky driving behaviors
Why are there so many fatal car accidents involving teens? In the latest AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72% of teen drivers ages 16-18 said they had engaged in one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:
- Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47%)
- Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
- Texting (35%)
- Running a red light (32%)
- Aggressive driving (31%)
- Drowsy driving (25%)
- Driving without a seatbelt (17%)
Teen drivers enjoy the newfound freedom of driving a car and going places with their friends. Warm weather is here, and they will be out driving. So what can be done to help prevent fatalities involving teen drivers on the road this summer? Parents play a big role.
Teen drivers and parents working together makes a difference
"Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel," said Jennifer Ryan, AAA's Director of State Relations. "It's never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana."
The organization offers resources for parents and teens to help them prepare for the dangerous summer driving season. If everyone on the road pays more attention to safety, here's hoping these 100 days will much less deadly.
The car accident attorneys at Gervelis Law Firm have been serving clients in our community for decades. If you've been injured or a loved one died in a car accident, contact us to schedule a free consultation. We have Ohio offices in Canfield, Warren, Akron and Toledo, and a Pennsylvania office in Hermitage.