Another summer is upon us and as we make plans for vacations and summer fun, we would like to remind you that we are entering the “100 Deadliest Days of Summer.” This may be the time to relax and plan for summer fun but IT IS NOT the time to relax while driving, especially for your teens. Just look at some of the facts:
- Motor Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens.
- Teens have the highest crash rate of any age group.
- An average 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer, an increase of 26 % compared with the other months of the year.
- 60 percent of teen crashes today are caused by distracted driving.
- Surprisingly, the top distraction for teens is other passengers, accounting for 15 % of teen driver crashes, compared to 12 % caused by texting or talking on a cell phone.
- For every 100,000 Americans under the age of 21, 1.2 people were killed in drunk driving fatalities in 2015.
- “Not only are teens themselves more likely to die in car crashes, they also have the highest rates of crash involvement resulting in the deaths of others, including passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles.” Newsday
What does this mean for us as we watch our young people load up the car and drive off to the beach? It means we must remain vigilant and ensure that we have provided our teens with every safety tip known to man, woman and then some. Sometimes, it takes “a little extra courage” to remind our teen that too many passengers is dangerous, the cell phone should go in the trunk of the car while they are driving or at least be put in Drive Mode, that other distractions can be just as deadly and that impaired driving is not only dangerous; it is a crime.
Getting arrested for driving drugged or drunk can ruin the potential for a college education, a good job, an increase in insurance, not to mention the fine, lawyer’s fees, etc. These are some practical things to consider here that we often forget in our hurry to see our young people have fun.
Parents: It also means that we should not be serving alcohol or other drugs at parties, and we, too must eliminate distractions behind the wheel and always drive sober.
Give them permission and encourage them to call you if they are in a potentially dangerous driving situation such as their friend, who is driving, is drunk. Let them know you will pick them up without recriminations.
Empower them to show courage and decline a ride from a friend who has been drinking or taking drugs, and that driving in a car with a driver who can’t take their finger off the cell phone is not only hazardous to their friend’s health but their own. Saying “no thanks” may make the difference between life and death.
If they use Ride Share, they should travel in pairs, make sure their driver is sober, does not drive distracted, and take a picture of the license and ensure that it is their driver before they get in. I am not a fan of either Uber or Lyft for a number of reasons and prefer taxis.
Encourage them to sign the Courage to Intervene promise, https://wesavelives.org/education/courage-to-intervene/
Also, we can’t forget about speed limits, basic highway safety laws and tips on what to do if a tire goes flat, etc. Unfortunately, our young drivers are more likely to underestimate dangerous situations or not recognize potentially hazardous situations than we older drivers. Life is too precious to waste it on a cell phone conversation or a drink before driving. These tips can help your family have a safer summer. Because I care . . . . .
Resources: We Save Lives, Triple AAA, National Safety Council and CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility, (FAARS)