As Memorial Day weekend welcomes us into summer, many of us are looking forward to heading down the shore to catch some waves and soak up the sun. While the start of the season sets the stage for road trips and adventures, it’s also the start of the “100 Deadliest Days” — the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the number of fatal vehicle crashes involving teens dramatically increases.
According to the CDC, car crashes are a leading cause of death among teens in the United States, and according to We Save Lives, the rate of teen fatal crashes increases by 43% during this summer period. Why this increase during warmer months? Immaturity, lack of skills, and inexperience. Teens are simply more likely to speed, make mistakes, wear their safety belts less often, and get distracted — especially if their friends are in the car.
However, parents and guardians can play a critical role in helping their teens navigate the roads. NJM Insurance urges parents to discuss road safety with their teen drivers before they get behind the wheel and ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to stay safe.
Whether they’re headed to the beach, a friend’s house, or even their summer job, here are some essential driving tips for your teens to keep in mind:
Buckle up for safety: Teens have the lowest seat belt use of any age group. Encourage your teen and their passengers to properly buckle in — even if it’s just a short trip to grab water ice. According to the National Safety Council, seatbelts can reduce the risk for fatality by over 60%, so encourage your teens to wear them.
Focus on the road ahead: Don’t let the sunshine and good vibes distract your teen from safe driving practices. Distracted driving is a leading cause of accidents among teen drivers. Urge your teen to put their phone away while driving and avoid other distractions like eating, drinking, messing with the radio, reaching for a French fry that fell between the seats, and fixing their hair or makeup in the mirror.
Pass on passengers: Having too many passengers can increase the risk of a crash. Many states have graduated driver licensing laws, including Pennsylvania and New Jersey, that limit the number of passengers a new driver can have in the car. Stick to a smaller crew and avoid the backseat driver drama.
Slow your roll: Speeding may feel like a thrill, but it’s a dangerous game to play. Speeding is a factor in nearly one-third of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers. Remind your teen to obey the speed limit and to adjust their speed based on weather, traffic, and road conditions.
With these tips in mind, you can help your teen make a splash this summer without the risk of a crash. On top of all this, there is another summer buzzkill that you should be aware of: drugs and alcohol.
Stop drugs and alcohol from crashing your teen’s summer fun
Summer is a time when many teens explore their independence, but impaired driving can quickly rain on their parade. Whether it’s drugs or alcohol, driving under the influence poses a serious risk for any driver, and especially for underage teen drivers. The CDC reports that 29% of drivers aged 15–20 who were killed in motor vehicle crashes had been drinking.
Even one drink can increase the crash risk among teen drivers, who have a much higher risk of being involved in a crash than older drivers with the same blood alcohol concentration.
Alcohol isn’t the only risk. Other substances, whether marijuana, other illicit drugs, prescription medications, or over-the-counter medications, can also put a damper on your teen’s summer. Impaired driving is both illegal and entirely preventable. By having honest conversations and educating your teen about the dangers of driving under the influence, you can help improve their and others’ safety on the road.
Be cool, stay safe, and have fun
Make sure your teen’s driving skills don’t melt away this summer. Encourage them to stay cool and focused on the road by taking extra precautions.
NJM emphasizes the importance of driver training for teens, with a focus on engaging drivers and their parents through research-based, data-driven programs that address teen driving safety, increase awareness, and encourage safe driving behavior.
The insurance company offers free teen driver safety programs as part of its enduring commitment to safety and to support the communities they serve. You and your teen can join Share the Keys, a 60-minute interactive program designed to reduce teen driver crash risks through increased parental involvement, when a local school or organization hosts a session.
Other programs, like What Do You Consider Lethal?, are designed to help teens avoid reckless and distracted driving by making responsible decisions. Newly-licensed drivers can also take the Just Drive pledge to help put an end to distracted driving.
For more information on how to keep your teen safe and save on your insurance, visit NJM.com.