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COVID-19 restrictions ease as ‘100 Deadliest Days’ begin for teens; road fatalities increase in summer


The season when teen drivers are most at risk is getting under way just as eased travel restrictions have motorists returning to the road.

The combination of schools closed, activities curtailed, summer jobs canceled and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted could prove deadly as teens take to the road this summer. Now is a good time for parents to model safe driving habits, while helping ensure their teens practice them as well, according to AAA.

Crashes in Kentucky

In Kentucky, 155 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in the past 10 years during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in teen-related summertime crashes from 2008 to 2018. That’s more than seven people a day each summer.

The combination of schools closed, activities curtailed, summer jobs canceled and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted could prove deadly as teens take to the road this summer.

“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,” said Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. “Our data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers, aged 16-17 years old, are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults.”

Due to their inexperience, teen drivers are at a higher risk of crashes. According to the new AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72 percent of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:

• Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47 percent)
• Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40 percent)
• Texting (35 percent)
• Red-light running (32 percent)
• Aggressive driving (31 percent)
• Drowsy driving (25 percent)
• Driving without a seatbelt (17 percent)

“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Lori Weaver Hawkins, manager, public and government affairs, AAA Blue Grass. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But we can’t just tell teens about the dangers. We must also refrain from engaging in risky driving behaviors and ensure we are modeling good behavior ourselves.”

To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:

• Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
• Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
• Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
• Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.

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To support parents in conducting practice driving sessions during COVID-19 and beyond, AAA is providing a free four-page guide to help parents coach their teens on how to drive safely. The “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for Parents” AAA ParentCoachingGuide 2020 offers behind-the-wheel lesson plans, including a variety of “do’s and don’ts” to make the learning experience as helpful as possible.

For parents, the guide can be beneficial as they coach their teens on a variety of routes, building on their formal behind-the-wheel training.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart Parent Session also offers excellent resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.

Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.

From AAA Blue Grass


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