The list of important events in the life of a teenager is long, but perhaps none is as important to high schoolers across the nation as getting a driver’s license. Many teens are probably looking forward to their first summer as legally licensed drivers as the end of the school year draws near. However, many may not know that the period of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the 100 Deadliest Days for teen drivers.
During these 100 days, roughly 1,000 people are killed in fatal car accidents involving teen drivers, and more than half of them are the teens themselves. Even though summer is particularly dangerous, car accidents are the leading cause of death for driving age teens no matter what time of year it is. In fact, teens get into three times as many accidents as the rest of the drivers on the road. Part of the reason for this is that teens are new drivers. It takes time to get comfortable enough behind the wheel to be able to accurately judge different situations and prevent potential accidents.
What Factors Contribute to the 100 Deadliest Days?
There are new drivers getting licensed every day, so lack of experience does not fully account for the increase in fatal car accidents involving teens during the 100 Deadliest Days (although it certainly doesn’t help). One major contributing factor is that there are simply more cars on the road during the summer. During these three months, kids are out of school so families take vacations, go more places during the day and just get out of the house to enjoy the sunshine. There are even more people moving to new houses in the summer. And more cars on the road always leads to an increase in the number of car crashes, no matter who is driving.
The reasons teens drive during the summer are also different from the rest of the year. During the fall and winter, they’re going to school, to sports games and then back home. During the summer, most teens drive for fun. They go to the movies, to the mall and over to friends’ houses. Recreational driving like this often means an increase in distracted or drunk driving, since teens will likely have a few friends along for the ride. They may also stay out later at night, when crashes are more likely to occur.
The best way to combat the dangers of the 100 Deadliest Days is to talk to your young driver and let him or her know the risks. Encourage your teen to develop safe driving habits and make sure they get enough experience driving with you in the passenger seat before you send them out on their own. Your teen may not always want to listen to you, but studies have shown that young drivers whose parents take the time to have a discussion about safe driving get into fewer accidents. So talk anyway.
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