Until the school year in Arkansas starts up, we're still in the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers. This dangerous period for teen drivers starts on Memorial Day weekend and runs until Labor Day weekend.
The American Automobile Association (AAA) discusses why this period is so risky for teen drivers by identifying three key factors – speeding, distracted driving, and impaired driving.
Speeding, a leading cause in fatal teen crashes
Many teen drivers are risk-takers. This includes teens exceeding the speed limit or driving faster than is safe or prudent during hazardous road conditions. Overall, speeding accounts for roughly 28 percent of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers.
AAA’s 2017 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that nearly 50 percent of teen drivers have driven too fast in residential neighborhoods within 30 days of being surveyed. In addition, nearly 40 percent reported exceeding the speed limit on a freeway.
Distracted driving on the rise among teen drivers
Distracted driving is a common risk factor among all age groups. If you're driving on Arkansas roads, chances are, there is a distracted driver within your vicinity. Since teen drivers have yet to develop adequate driving skills, distractions can be especially dangerous. During the 100 Deadliest Days, it accounts for nine percent of fatal crashes involving teens.
The 2017 Traffic Safety Culture Index found that more than 50 percent of teen drivers reported reading a text or email message within 30 days of being surveyed. Nearly 40 percent of participants also reported sending a text or email.
In additional research, AAA used in-vehicle dash-cam footage to monitor the habits of teen drivers. That footage showed that teen drivers were distracted in 58 percent of crashes, which is four times federal estimates.
Just because teens aren't old enough to legally purchase or consume alcohol doesn't mean that some of them aren't driving drunk. In fact, 17 percent of fatal teen crashes involves drunk driving.
What's worse, alcohol is present in roughly one in six drivers involved in fatal teen crashes.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that in 2015, more than 7 million children and teens ages 12 to 20 admitted to consuming alcoholic beverages beyond “just a few sips” within 30 days. Moreover, about 60 percent of teens aged 15 to 18 have had at least one drink.
Mitigating the risk
No matter how much teen drivers learn from driver's education, they still lack experience. Building adequate driving skills takes years of navigating a variety of roadways and driving conditions.
That's why it's important for parents to be involved during the process. In order to mitigate the risk of a crash, AAA suggests taking the following measures:
- Talk to your teen early on about risks of speeding, impaired driving, and distraction.
- Encourage your teen to avoid drinking or drug use and keep phones out of reach while driving.
- Teaching your teen safe driving isn't enough. Lead by example.
- Establish rules and make a parent-teen driving agreement with the AAA StartSmart form.
For more tips and resources, parents and teen drivers can go to AAA's Keys2Drive website. The site offers advice on how teens can prepare themselves before getting their driver's license, how parents can monitor their teens' driving, and how teen drivers can prepare themselves for autonomy.
If you or a loved one was injured in a crash, speak to an experienced car accident attorney at McDaniel Law Firm, PLC. We investigate crashes and fight for the rights of injured motorists across the state of Arkansas. Contact us today to schedule your free consultation.