If you are a parent, especially of a teenager who is of driving age, you should know that, according to AAA, the most deadly period for teen drivers is practically upon us. The tragic season occurs on the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
The deadliest season
Obviously, this season coincides with summer vacation, when teens have three months without a daily school routine to keep them grounded. Graduations and proms fall within the 100 days, events at which teens are far more likely to kick up their heels and, often, take larger risks.
On a typical day, 10 teens will die in traffic accidents. On keys days in the 100-day season, that will escalate by more than 50 percent, to numbers like 16, 17 and 18 a day. AAA says that seven of the 10 deadliest days for teens on the road fall in or near the 100-day period. Those days are May 19, May 23, June 10, July 4, July 9, Aug. 8 and Aug. 14.
Talk to your kids
AAA and other advocacy groups, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, are urging parents to have a dialogue with their teenage children about the season and the need to always be cautions behind the wheel. As naive as that may initially sound, a recent report from USA Today showed that teens who talk with their parents about the dangers of driving are less likely to engage in risky behavior on the road.
Peter Kissinger, president of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, told USA Today:
“The research and our experience tells us that the earlier we can get parents engaged in this dialogue and the longer we can keep them engaged, the more likely their teens will be safer drivers.”
However, the research found that a casual, isolated conversation would not cut it. It needs to be an ongoing dialogue and to extend even after the teen graduates from learner’s permit to being a licensed driver.
Dr. Charles Sophy, a family psychiatrist, feels like this dialogue needs to be done in a way that the teen feels comfortable contributing to the conversation:
“You have to keep it an emotionally safe conversation, watching the eyeball rolling and tones of voices. You want them to come home and tell you if they are having problems.”
Delay car ownership
Another thing you as a parent can do is to delay car ownership as long as possible. Although a newly licensed teen may have nothing else on his or her mind but getting a car, research shows that he or she is far safer taking turns driving the family vehicle, where permission is necessary before getting behind the wheel.
Distracted driving top killer
Incidentally, according to AAA, distracted driving has now eclipsed drunk driving as the leading killer of teens behind the wheel. Cellphone conversations, texting and tablet computers are behind many of these distractions.
A survey recently conducted by AT&T found that 41 percent of teens have observed their parents texting or or emailing while driving. All learning begins with setting a proper example.