HAMILTON – Picnics, parades, fireworks – and sadly, teen highway deaths – are historically and unfortunately a part of July 4th in New Jersey and the rest of the nation. Independence Day is ranked the deadliest day of the year for teen drivers and passengers, according to AAA’s analysis of five years (2006- 2010) of crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
With this in mind, AAA urges parents to increase their communication with their teens about safe driving behavior during the summer months. Statistics show that the five most dangerous days on the road for teens during summer (between Memorial Day and Labor Day), in order are: July 4, June 10, Aug. 14, Aug. 8 and July 9. On average, more than 16 teens were killed in car crashes on each of these days.
The top ten deadliest days of the year for teenage drivers are ranked as follows, with number one being the deadliest day:
- July 4
- June 10
- May 20
- August 14
- September 26
- May 23
- August 8
- July 9
- November 24
- January 21
According to AAA, nearly 6,700 teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 died in traffic crashes between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays during the five-year period of 2006-2010. Nationally, an average of 400 teens died in traffic crashes during each of the summer months (May – August), compared to a monthly average of 346 teen deaths during non-summer months.
“During the summer, teens tend to drive more often and with less supervision than they do during the school year,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “That’s why AAA urges parents to establish a driving agreement that keeps teens off the road at night and restricts riding in cars with multiple passengers. This agreement should be in place all year long, but especially during the high-risk summer months.”
To keep teens safe during these dangerous months and year round, AAA Insurance suggests the following tips for parents:
- Eliminate trips without purpose. Teens have three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, based on amount of miles driven, and a teen’s crash risk is highest during the first year of solo driving. Limit teens’ driving to essential trips and only with parental permission for at least the first year of driving.
- Limit passengers. Crash rates increase with each teen passenger in the vehicle. In fact, fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present versus when teens drive alone. Also, riding in a vehicle with a teen driver can be risky for teen passengers. Establish passenger limits and restrict teens from riding as a passenger with a teen driver.
- Restrict night driving. A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles at night. Many parents limit driving during the highest-risk late night hours, yet they should consider limiting evening driving as well, as more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.
- Teach your teens how to drive. Summer offers the perfect opportunity for teens to learn how to drive and the best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving, where parents can share their wisdom accumulated over many years of driving. Even after a teen has a license that allows solo driving, parents and teens should continue to practice driving together to help the teen manage increasingly more complex and challenging driving conditions. AAA offers a variety of Driver Training Programs for novice to mature drivers.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement. Written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more. AAA offers a parent-teen driving agreement on its teen driver safety website, www.AAA.com/teendriving. The website also provides a variety of additional tools and resources for parents and teens as they progress through the learning-to-drive process.
- Be there. Make sure your teen knows that if they need help, advice or a ride, they can call you at any time. Extend this offer often and let your teen know that you are always available, and that they will not be judged or punished should they need your help.
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