The 14 weeks from Memorial Day to Labor Day have earned the grim title of the 100 Deadliest Days for teens. With teenage drivers spending more time on the roadways while school is out, the number of traffic fatalities skyrockets during the summer.
Car accidents are the leading cause of death for American teens. And, during the 100 Deadliest Days, teens are 26% more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than they are during the rest of the year.
What makes this period so dangerous? And what can we do to make the 100 Deadliest Days safer?
What Makes the 100 Deadliest Days So Dangerous?
There are several reasons why teen fatalities increase during the 100 Deadliest Days.
The inexperience of teen drivers. Teenage drivers are almost three times as likely as older drivers to get in a car accident (based on miles driven, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety).
Distracted driving. According to WeSaveLives.org, 60% of teen crashes come from driving distractions like phones, passengers, and eating/drinking.
Speeding. 2019 data from the CDC shows that 31% of male teen drivers involved in fatal crashes were speeding. Of female drivers involved in fatal crashes, 17% were speeding.
Drunk driving. Even though the national drinking age is 21, teens still drink and drive. 2019 data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that 16% of 15- to 18-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes had alcohol in their systems at the time of the accident.
What You Can Do to Make the 100 Deadliest Days Safer
The good news is that there are many ways to make the roads safer during the busy summer season. Since the 100 Deadliest Days typically refers to teen drivers, we’re going to focus our safety tips on teens and their parents. But anyone can be a safer driver with these tips!
Driver Safety Tips for Teens
Remember what you learned in driver’s ed. Follow the speed limit, pay attention to all road signs and traffic signals, and don’t follow the car in front of you too closely.
Always wear your seatbelt. The CDC reports that “seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45%, and cut the risk of serious injury by 50%.”
Don’t drink and drive. Ever.
Get plenty of rest before getting behind the wheel. Every year, around 100,000 incidents of drowsy driving are reported, resulting in over 50,000 injuries.
Focus on the road. Minimizing your distractions will make this a lot easier!
Driver Safety Tips for Parents
Talk to your teens. Explain the seriousness of the 100 Deadliest Days, and make sure your teen understands the rules (number of passengers allowed, curfew, zero-tolerance on texting while driving, etc).
Model good driving behavior. You know children do what you do, not what you say. So teach them to be good drivers by being a good driver yourself.
Consider a defensive driving course. Did you know that hands at “10 and 2” is no longer considered the proper driving position? Safe driving recommendations may have changed since you completed driver’s ed. A refresher with up-to-date driving techniques will make you a safer driver and a better example to young drivers.
The 100 Deadliest Days are a scary time for teens, parents, and everyone else sharing the road. But with a few precautions, we can all do our parts to make the roads safer this summer.