As COVID-19 restrictions slowly start to lift, allowing people to enjoy some of their favorite summertime activities, the last thing anyone wants to think about is getting into a car accident. However, there is a reason why the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer. More fatal car accidents occur during this time, compared to the rest of the year, and teen drivers are particularly vulnerable. In fact, according to data from AAA, from 2008 to 2018, over 8,300 people died in car accidents involving teen drivers. Their inexperience behind the wheel, combined with other factors, such as distracted driving, speeding, and drunk driving, contribute to the spike in car accidents during the summer months.
Alarming Accident Statistics Involving Teen Drivers
Although teen drivers are not the only motorists who are responsible for the spike in car accidents during the summer, new teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident compared to adult drivers. The following statistics show how serious this problem is among teen drivers and how important it is for parents to educate their children about the rules of the road:
- Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens.
- An average of 260 teen drivers are fatally injured in car accidents during the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer, which is an increase of 26 percent, compared to the rest of the year.
- Approximately 60 percent of teen-related car accidents are caused by distracted driving.
- Other passengers in the vehicle cause more distractions for teen drivers than texting or talking on the phone.
- In 2015, for every 100,000 Americans under the age of 21, 1.2 people were killed in drunk driving accidents.
- Teens aged 16 to 17 are close to four times more likely to be involved in a car accident compared to drivers who are aged 18 and older.
- Teens aged 16 to 17 are 4.5 times more likely to be involved in a crash, and 3.2 times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash, compared to drivers aged 30 to 59.
- The number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers increased by over 10 percent from 2015 to 2016.
Why Do More Car Accidents Occur During the Summer?
Car accidents occur year-round, and although many people might assume that more accidents occur during the winter months, the summer is actually more dangerous when it comes to car accidents. The following are reasons why the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer can be dangerous for motorists, particularly teen drivers:
- School is out for the summer: While schools have been closed for months as a result of the Coronavirus, students had to continue their schoolwork from home. However, summer has officially started for many students, which means that more drivers are on the road, including inexperienced teen drivers. Whether they are heading to the beach, driving to a part-time summer job, or going to a friend’s house, more teen drivers on the road increases the risk of car accidents.
- Summer storms: People love summer for the warm, sunny days and the long evenings. However, summer is also known for having severe thunderstorms, which can involve heavy wind and rain. This can cause dangerous road conditions and limited visibility. If weather reports call for torrential rain and wind, it is highly recommended that drivers stay off the road until the storm passes. This is particularly true for teen drivers. In addition to thunderstorms, bright, sunny days can cause sun glare, making it difficult to see. When this happens, a motorist can lose control of his or her vehicle and crash into another car, a cyclist, or a pedestrian.
- Extreme heat: Teen drivers may not realize the effects hot weather can have on a vehicle’s performance. Constantly running the air conditioner on high can put a strain on the vehicle. In addition, when the heat causes the air in the tires to expand, this can cause a dangerous blowout in worn tires. If this happens, a teen driver can easily lose control of the vehicle, causing a serious accident if the blowout occurs on a busy highway.
- Road work: Construction crews tend to do most of their road work during the warm summer months. Lane closures, detours, and increased traffic, particularly in congested urban areas, can increase the risk of car accidents, including those involving teen drivers. Speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving can cause serious accidents, including rear-end accidents.
What are the Most Common Causes of Car Accidents Involving Teen Drivers?
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, close to 3,500 people have been killed over the past five summers in car accidents involving teen drivers. Close to two-thirds of the victims who were seriously injured or killed were the teen drivers. The following are top causes of fatal accidents that occur during the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer:
- Speeding: According to a AAA survey about teen drivers, close to 50 percent of respondents admitted to speeding on a residential street and 40 percent said that they exceeded the speed limit on the freeway within the previous 30 days. This is worrisome because speeding significantly increases the severity of a crash, which can cause life-threatening or fatal injuries. Teen drivers must always obey the posted speed limit whether they are driving on a busy highway or on a quiet residential street.
- Distracted driving: Teen drivers are notorious for using their phones to read or send messages, to make a phone call, or to check social media. Too often, however, they do this while driving. Over half of the teen drivers surveyed said that they read a text or email while driving, and close to 40 percent admitted to sending a text or email within the previous 30 days. Dash-cam video footage found driver distraction to be the cause of 58 percent of teen crashes, which is approximately four times the federal estimate.
- Impaired driving: The legal drinking age in the United States is 21, but that does not stop teen drivers from drinking and getting behind the wheel. According to the survey, one in six teen drivers involved in fatal car accidents during the summer months had alcohol in their system.
What Can Parents Do to Keep Their Teen Drivers Safe?
One of the most important things parents of teen drivers can do is lead by example. If you do not want your teen driver to text while driving, model that behavior and put your phone away when behind the wheel. The following are additional steps that parents can take to protect their teen drivers:
- Always wear a seat belt. This is one of the most effective ways to prevent serious injuries in the event of a car accident. Unfortunately, teen drivers have the lowest rate of seat belt use, particularly when they are in the passenger seat or the backseat. Parents should encourage their teen drivers to wear their seat belt at all times.
- Put the phone out of reach. Set the right example by putting your phone down when driving. Texting or talking on the phone while driving puts you and the other motorists on the road at risk. Discuss these risks with your teen driver and the consequences of distracted driving. There are many videos available that show what can happen to teen drivers who text while driving.
- Do not drink and drive. Drunk driving is against the law no matter the age of the driver. Discuss the dangers of drinking and driving with your teen, and the fact that even tipsy driving is considered drunk driving. Make sure that they understand the importance of choosing a designated driver.
- Create a driving contract. This should include a list of rules and expectations, as well as consequences for violating the contract. Discuss the details of the contract together so that you are all in agreement and there are no questions. Sample contracts can be found on the AAA website.
Freehold Car Accident Lawyers at Ellis Law Seek Justice for Car Accident Victims
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident involving a teen driver, do not hesitate to contact the Freehold car accident lawyers at Ellis Law. We will walk you through every step of the claims process and ensure that you receive the maximum financial compensation you deserve of your injuries. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 732-308-0200 or contact us online. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, Essex County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.