Traffic deaths involving teens spike over summer

DAYTON, Ohio — An average of 10 people die in a traffic accident involving a teen every day throughout the summer, making it one of the deadliest times of year for drivers and especially for young people behind the wheel.

More than 1,050 people in the United States were killed in car crashes involving a teen driver from Memorial Day through Labor Day during 2016, a new report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows. The summertime traffic deaths amount to a 14 percent increase in deaths compared to the rest of the year, according to the report.

With most schools now on summer break, the number of crashes is again expected to increase.

Advertisement

“Research shows that young drivers are at greater risk and have higher crash rates compared to older and more experienced drivers,” said Pat Brown, a AAA Driving School Supervisor. “Through education, proper training, and involvement of parents, we can help our young drivers to become better and safer drivers, which in turn keeps the roads safer for everyone.”

Both driving at night and the speed someone is traveling appear to be major factors in the increased number of traffic deaths, the AAA report shows.

Nationally, 36 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities involving teens occur from 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. and in Ohio nearly 75 percent of traffic deaths occur during nighttime hours, according to AAA. Teen drivers are also involved in one of every 10 speed-related traffic deaths.

A lot of drivers feel unshackled when winter recedes and nicer summer weather makes the roads easier to drive, said Cindy Antrican, manager of public and government affairs for AAA’s Miami Valley offices. But, teen drivers aren’t experienced enough to “roll the windows down and turn the radio up” when they hit the road, she said.

“During the winter months … their trips have a purpose so they’re driving to work or a school function and often there’s more restrictions put on them by the parents,” Antrican said. “Over the summer, they’re trying to free themselves of those restrictions.”

Advertisement

One thing Antrican said parents can do is to set rules for new drivers in the family. She encouraged parents to limit the number of passengers in their child’s car and even the hours they can be out on the road.

“There have to be clear rules laid out and there has to be a clear follow-through when the rules aren’t obeyed,” Antrican said.

Parents may also want to give a lot of thought to what car their teens are driving, said Jessica Cicchino, vice president of research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Often a driver’s first car is something on the cheaper side that may not have the newest safety features, even though teens may be the people who need them the most.

Parents should try to make sure their teen’s car is equipped with a technology called “electronic stability control,” said Cicchino. The technology — which became an industry standard by 2012 — improves a car’s stability by reducing the loss of traction.

“Teens are the riskiest drivers,” Cicchino said. “They’re trying to see what the limits of their vehicle is on the road so anything you can do to make it safer for teens is going to help out.”

When shopping around for a teen, parents should know that the slower a car is the safer it may be, Cicchino said. Small cars and vehicles with a lot of extra features should also be avoided, she said.

“The ideal car for a teen is big, boring and slow,” Cicchino said. “We want young drivers to stay away from higher horsepower vehicles that can tempt them to test their limits.”

Advertisement

BY THE NUMBERS

1,050: Number of people who died in crashes involving a teen driver in summer 2016.

10: Number of people who died per day in traffic accidents during summer 2016.

75: Percent of traffic deaths occur during nighttime hours in Ohio.

1 in 10: Number of speed-related traffic deaths that involve a teen driver.

Source: AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.