Summer Driving Statistics May Bring Teens To Screeching Halt

Armen Hareyan's picture
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It's the number one killer of teens' car crashes.

Motor vehicle accidents claim the lives of more than 6,000 15- to 20-year-olds each year in this country and injure another 300,000.

Stearns County's Safe Communities Coalition wants you to know that summer happens to be the deadliest time of year for teen drivers. In fact, statistically July and August are the most dangerous months. There's no school, late nights and the joys of cruising the highway with friends. Teens succumb to more risky driving behaviors during the summer that lead to crashes than during the school year. A SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) and Liberty Mutual study found:

' More teens are driving ' They average 44% more hours behind the wheel each week during the summer (23.6 hours) than during the school year (16.4 hours).

' They're piling in ' 23% of teens drive with three or more teen passengers during the summer compared to 6% during the school year.

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' Later nights ' 72% of all teens say they stay out later during the summer than the school year. 47% say they drive late at night in summer versus 6% during the school year.

' Heavy eyelids ' 24% are more likely to drive when tired or sleepy during the summer, compared to 9% during the school year.

'This is a recipe for disaster,' said Stearns County Public Health Division Director, Renee Frauendienst. 'Parents should be aware if their kids are spending their summer cruising around at all hours with a carload of friends.'

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research shows that teen drivers are involved in more than five times as many fatal crashes as adults. Minnesota is one of the deadliest states in the nation for young drivers. Our state's percentage of fatal crashes involving 16 to 20 year olds is among the highest in the country.

Teens are less likely to be involved in a crash if they're driving during daylight hours, on familiar roads and without teen passengers or other distractions such as cell phone calls and text messages or CD's. Even a simple conversation is enough of a distraction to teens. Parents can role model good driving behavior by obeying speed limits, wearing a seatbelt, being courteous to other drivers and avoiding the use of electronic devices while driving. Parents also need to play active roles in their child's driving life and talk with them about car crashes and how to prevent them. If a teenager is in a vehicle with someone who is driving recklessly, they need to speak up and let them know they don't like the way they are driving.

Stearns County's Safe Communities Coalition was formed by the Stearns County Human Services Public Health Division through a grant from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety/Office of Traffic Safety. The Safe Communities Coalition works to drive the number of traffic deaths toward zero.

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