Monday, July 7, 2014

Teens need parental help during 100 deadliest days of summer

From:  The Argus Observer

AAA says diligent parents may be the best line of defense for teen drivers during a 100-day period coinciding with the three-month summer vacation season from June through Labor Day.

On average, 261 teen drivers in the U.S. will be crash fatalities each month this summer. That’s a 26 percent increase compared to the rest of the year.

Over the course of five years, nearly 4,000 teen drivers and passengers between 13 and 19 years old have died in traffic crashes between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Teens are involved in more crashes per mile driven than drivers of any other age group. Drivers ages 16 and 17 are involved in about seven times as many crashes per mile driven compared to drivers in their 40s, 50s, and 60s.

That’s an average of seven teenage fatalities each day.

“Parents are best suited to motivate teens to do the right thing behind the wheel,” says AAA Idaho Public Affairs Director Dave Carlson.”

A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety identifies and quantifies dangerous teen behaviors. For instance, the risk of death for 16- and 17-year-olds increases by 44 percent when one passenger under 21 is in the car. It doubles with two passengers and quadruples with three or more versus driving alone.

Idaho’s graduated driver licensing law limits the number of underage passengers that may be in the vehicle with a new driver. It defines the times and conditions teens may drive at night and provides for the cancellation of a teen’s supervised instruction permit for a violation of the state’s underage alcohol consumption law.

Those factors are important, AAA says, because the prevalence of speeding, late-night driving, and alcohol use also tend to increase with the number of teenage passengers in the car.

Having an adult in the car, however, cuts fatality risk to 16- and 17-year-old drivers by 62 percent, underscoring the important roles parents and guardians play in keeping their teen safe.

On the positive side, when parents drive with their teens in progressively more difficult driving situations, such as in heavy traffic, or in inclement weather, they are helping to prepare them for more of the driving scenarios they will encounter when they are on their own.

Parents can also play a key role in helping teens limit dangerous distractions in the vehicles, such as smartphones and other electronics.

Carlson said parents should work with their young drivers to negotiate a driving contract that sets expectations for responsibilities and behaviors once teens get their license.