The Perfect Storm: Quarantine Lift As “100 Deadliest Days” Begin May Mean The Most Dangerous Summer Yet For Teen Drivers
Across the United States, COVID-19 quarantine restrictions are lifting by various degrees – in some states, like New Mexico, Massachusetts, and Maryland, stay at home advisories are still in place, but in other states, like Florida, it’s almost easy to forget that the virus is still classified as a pandemic. Restaurants, movie theaters, bowling alleys, salons, and other businesses are all open (at least at 50% capacity), though schools are closed until August.
This means that people are beginning to drive more after two months of staying mostly at home. After any lengthy period of not driving, anyone who gets behind the wheel may experience more insecurity while driving because their skills and reaction times are out of practice – or they may be overconfident relative to their current ability. Either can prove dangerous on the roads, but the next couple of months may be particularly hazardous for teenage drivers, who are already inexperienced, and who may be anxious to get out of the house.
The Florida state opening coincides with AAA’s “100 Deadliest Days” of summer. This is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when there is a significant spike in the amount of teen motor vehicle accidents.
Dr. David Yang, Executive Director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, remarked “The last decade of crash data shows that teens continue to be over-represented in crashes and summertime marks an increase of fatal crashes for this age group.”
The statistics back the simple but sobering statement; in the United States, AAA found more than 8,300 people died in summertime accidents involving teen drivers between 2008 – 2018. That’s more than seven people every day. For every mile driven, teen drivers age 16-17 are three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than adults. Fatalities related to teen driver crashes increase by 14% during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Many studies cite Florida as being in the top 20 states with the highest rate of teen driving accidents, which is why Florida parents should talk with their teen children this summer and encourage them to drive cautiously.
There are a few reasons why summer is more deadly for teens than for other drivers. Not all causes are related to mere inexperience.
Distracted driving plays a huge role, whether that’s texting and driving or blaring the radio too loud to hear traffic or talking with friends while in the car. AAA’s research shows that when teens have only other teens in their vehicle, the fatality rate for all people involved in a crash goes up 51%. When a person 35 or older rides with a teen driver, the fatality rate decreased by 8%. 35% of teens admitted to texting and driving.
Speeding is another factor; in 2016, 29% of all teen crash deaths were speed-related. 36% of all teen crash deaths happened between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., which means that nighttime driving is actually riskier than speeding.
Other factors influencing summertime teen accidents include drowsy driving, aggressive driving, not wearing a seatbelt, and running red lights.
If you are a parent, make sure your child is aware of these risk factors, especially if they are a new driver, but even if they have been driving for a few years. AAA recommends that parents should talk with their teens often about abstaining from risky behaviors while behind the wheel, minimize their own risky behavior while driving to set a good example, establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets boundaries, and supervise their teen’s driving for at least 50 hours.
You as a parent should also make sure that your teen knows exactly what to do in case an accident does occur. You never want them to be in an accident, but the likelihood is that they will be (especially if they live in Florida). Besides just talking to them about safety and risk factors, make sure that they know to call the police in the event of a crash, to call you, to take photos of the scene, and to never admit fault. You need to ensure that they have a complete medical examination within a few days, just in case they have injuries that did not present themselves right away.
If your teen is injured in a crash, a local personal injury lawyer can help you understand your legal rights and help you fight for justice for your child. Even if they were partially at fault, your insurance company may not be honest with you about how much your case is actually worth. The Florida Law Group is ranked in the top 1% of law firms in Florida and is nationally recognized for our ability to get verdicts for our clients and advocate for their best interests.
Visit AAA’s website to see what other safety recommendations for teen drivers they make in light of COVID-19 restrictions easing as this dangerous summer period commences.