Why does such a large number of car accidents happen during this time?
May is a time for celebration as colleges and high schools hold commencement ceremonies for graduating seniors.
But for too many families, the celebration will turn into mourning. We are about to enter what has become known as the 100 Deadliest Days of the year. Between the end of May and the end of August, there are more fatal car accidents than during any other season.
Teen Drivers at Greatest Risk
The American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety notes that in 2016, teen drivers were involved in more than one million traffic crashes that resulted in the deaths of more than 3,200 people. More than 1,050 of these fatalities occurred between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
These are the deadliest months on the road in Colorado just as they are in the country as a whole. According to the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), since 2013 more than 900 people have been killed in auto accidents in Colorado between June and August.
Safety officials are working to make these 100 days safer. Teen drivers are one group being targeted heavily. As the executive director of the AAA Foundation, Dr. David Yang, explains:
“The number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers during the summer is an important traffic safety concern, and research shows that young drivers are at greater risk and have higher crash rates compared to older and more experienced drivers. Through education, proper training, and involvement of parents, we can help our young drivers to become better and safer drivers, which in turn keeps the roads safer for everyone.”
Number One Cause of Teen Auto Accidents: Distraction
We Save Lives, a non-profit organization that promotes safe driving practices, urges parents to help young people drive more safely. “An average 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer,” the organization reports, “an increase of 26% compared with the other months of the year.” New drivers of 16 or 17 years of age are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than more experienced drivers.
What is the main cause of these crashes? Distractions.
The number one distraction is not a cell phone. It’s the presence of other teens in the car. In 15 percent of crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months, the driver was distracted by another passenger. In 12 percent of such crashes, texting or talking on a cell phone was a distraction.
Speeding and failure to wear a seat belt are also factors in crash injuries and fatalities. Sixty percent of teens killed in accidents were not buckled in. In 30 percent of fatal accidents, a teen driver was speeding.
Parents Can Help
Teens whose parents take an active role in their driver education have fewer and less severe crashes. One thing parents can do is ask their sons and daughters to sign a Parent/Teen Driving Contract (which you can download from the CDOT site). It’s a great way to stress to a young driver what the (pre-accident) consequences will be if he or she is caught disobeying reasonable driving rules and to secure a solemn commitment to abide by those rules.