GREENVILLE, S.C. — New teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The finding comes as the “100 Deadliest Days” — the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year — is underway.
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Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers during this deadly period, research shows. In 2016, 73 people between the ages of 15 and 19 years of age were killed in traffic collisions in South Carolina (according to preliminary data).
“Distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers. By better understanding how teens are distracted on the road and reminding them to disconnect and drive, we can better prevent deaths throughout the 100 Deadliest Days and the rest of the year,” said AAA Carolinas President and CEO Dave Parsons.
And fatal teen crashes are on the rise. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this trend, AAA urges parents to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.
Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:
- Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.
- Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
- Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:
- Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and 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.
Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. AAA also offers membership discounts for new teen drivers to help keep them safe on the road in case of an emergency.
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