The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has become known by many people as the 100 Deadliest Days due to the number of traffic fatalities during this time. Many news outlets have reported on the issue in the last week, including most local California television networks and several California newspapers. While the '100 Deadliest Days' name is catchy and memorable, not everyone knows what it means.
AAA Research & Tracking
AAA is known for its roadside assistance program and auto insurance, but it is also a leader in tracking travel data. According to the company, more than 1,050 people were killed in car crashes that involved teenage drivers in the year 2016 during this period. The company also mentions several factors that affect the uptick in traffic deaths during this time, including nighttime driving, speeding, and distracted driving.
Teenagers drive a lot at night during this time period due to their changed social schedules, as school is out and many teenagers spend more time with their peers at night. Driving at night in urban areas, such as around sporting stadiums, bars, dance clubs, and other places where young people like to socialize brings with it additional possible dangers. For example, many of these activities including alcohol as part of the social activity - consider how many people have had a few drinks and then get in their car after a basketball or baseball game! Your teen shares the road with them, and teenagers should be aware of their surrounding drivers more so at night than any other time.
Nighttime driving also includes drivers who are making long passages and road trips. The drivers may be heading to or from vacation, and the longer we drive, the less attentive we can be. This includes drivers returning home from college, or visiting friends and family on the weekend from their jobs. Many car accidents in California's big cities, such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, and the Orange County metro area, involve people who work there and are trying to get home. Young drivers should know that these cities have especially high number of car accidents in the summer months.
Parents should note that it is not just in the late hours of the night (more appropriately, the early morning hours of the next day) when crashes happen. A recent study shows that more crashes involving teens actually happen before midnight.
During social outings, teens are more likely to speed with friends in the car, or if they are hurrying to get somewhere to meet up with their friends. While it may be perceived to be an issue with young male drivers only, the reality is that anyone speeding excessively presents a hazard to themselves and to those people around them. Several fatal car crashes in recent years have occurred on roads where the public tends to drive fast, such as the 73 toll road that cuts through Orange County, or several backcountry roads in the Riverside and San Bernardino area. These roads are, at some times, seemingly empty, which gives some drivers the perception that driving fast is OK. Tragically, you don't need to crash into another vehicle, or have another car hit you, to be injured in a car accident. As has been the case in these specific areas, the roads are empty and drivers drive too fast, not aware of how their car operates at high speed. Add to the mix alcohol, nighttime driving, drowsy or distracted driving, and you have a recipe for disaster.
Young drivers should know that speeding is not only dangerous when they are trying to steer around other vehicles, but can also be fatal when you're the only one on the road. Speed also tends to be involved with many fatal motorcycle accidents, which also happen at a higher frequency during this time period.
Much attention has been given to the affect of distracted driving due to cell phone use lately, but cell phones are not the only cause of distracted driving. When it comes to teenagers, too many friends in the car is a bad thing, and every summer there are tragic crashes that injury and kill young people driving together. While carpooling is encouraged by many due to the benefits of reduced emissions into the environment, parents of teenagers should know their teen's social habits and advise accordingly. Some teenagers are better equipped emotionally to drive when they have their friends in the car. Sometimes it may be safer to be driving alone and meet your group at the destination, rather than risk being distracted by rowdy passengers.
Lyft and Uber have added another option to the mix, making it possible for passengers to ride together, but cutting out the need for any of the teens to drive. This option, it should be noted, is not fool-proof, as Lyft and Uber drivers can be distracted as well, and the news has been full of stories where drivers are distracted by their young passengers and have to insist on better behavior in the back seat. Your teen should know that it is important to keep the volume of his or her voice down if driving in a hired car, as the driver needs to be able to concentrate on driving.
Talk To Your Teenager
As a parent, you are key to helping your teenager drive safely. Teenagers should know that their parents care, and that their parents have given them specific, easy to understand and remember rules regarding driving during the summer months. First, they should know that there are dangers and hazards they cannot control, but may be able to avoid. They should know that if they are involved in a car crash and are injured, they should not worry about money, but should go to the hospital or doctor and get the care they need. Teenagers should know that there are more car crashes this time of year, and there are a lot of intoxicated drivers, distracted drivers, and just plain more drivers in general on the roads during the 100 deadliest days.