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Safe Summer Driving for Teens

Summer should be a carefree time for teens. But for teen drivers, the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day can be deadly. In 2013, an average of 239 teen drivers and passengers nationwide died in traffic crashes in each of the three summer months, a 48 percent higher rate than the rest of the year. In general, teen drivers have the highest crash rate of any group in the U.S. These statistics are alarming.

If you’ve ever wished you could be an invisible passenger in your teen driver’s car, a new landmark study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety will interest you. Using in-vehicle cameras, researchers analyzed the six seconds leading up to a crash in nearly 1,700 videos of teen drivers, and they found that distraction factored into nearly 58 percent of all crashes. This is much higher than formerly thought; previous data from police reports estimated that distraction factored into only 14 percent of teen driver crashes.

Researchers found the most common distractions are interacting with one or more passengers (a factor in 15 percent of crashes), followed by cell phone use (12 percent), looking at something in the vehicle (10 percent) or outside the vehicle (9 percent), and singing/moving to music (8 percent). For additional information about the study, visit here.

What’s important to know is that many of these crashes are preventable, and you can take action to help your teen avoid dangerous situations. First, make sure your teen understands and complies with the graduated driver licensing (GDL) and distracted-driving laws. AAA supports GDL laws, which allow new drivers to gain practical experience by restricting their exposure to risky situations.

Also, as a parent, you can serve as a role model. In addition to removing distractions from your own driving, talk candidly to your teen about the topic. To start the conversation, download the parent-teen driving agreement at

AAA advocates on behalf of motorists of all ages, and I encourage you to reinforce safe driving not only with teens, but with all members of your family. Have a safe and enjoyable summer.

Jim McGrath

July/August 2015 Issue

Jim McGrath

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