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June Is the Top Month for Teen Driver Crashes and Fatalities in Massachusetts

100 Deadliest Days

As teen drivers venture out this summer, AAA Northeast is urging parents and teenagers to have a frank discussion about driving safely during the “100 Deadliest Days” between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
 
A recent AAA analysis of crash data between 2015 and 2019 shows that June is the deadliest month for teen drivers and their passengers in Massachusetts. Last year, more than 4,700 teen drivers in Massachusetts were involved in crashes between Memorial Day and Labor Day. In those crashes, 631 teens were injured – a rate of one injured teen every four hours.
 
And it’s not just teen drivers who are getting hurt or killed. June is also the No. 1 month for crashes where teen drivers carried at least one teen passenger. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research shows that the risk of a crash or fatality increases dramatically when teens drive with one or more passengers under 21. Compared to driving with no passengers, a teen’s risk of death per mile driven increases 44 percent with one under-21 passenger, doubles when carrying two and quadruples when carrying three. That’s why AAA encourages all parents and teens—not only those who have a license—to practice and promote safe driving habits, model good behavior for young drivers, and limit distractions.
 
Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018 during the “100 Deadliest Days,” an average of seven people each summer day. With schools closed, many summer jobs cancelled, camp activities curtailed, and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, this summer brings heightened concern as teens take to the road.
 
Additionally, reduced traffic volume due to the pandemic has sparked a rise in speeding on Massachusetts roadways. Young drivers might be tempted to speed on the open road, or could encounter speeding vehicles with less time to react and avoid a potential crash. In light of this increase in speeding, complying with state law and wearing a seat belt is more important than ever.
 
Parents and teens should also review the new hands-free law enacted earlier this year, which prohibits holding or manipulating an electronic device while behind the wheel and requires the use of hands-free technology to place calls or interact with a navigation system beyond a single swipe or tap. Eliminating potential distractions is one of the best techniques to reduce crash risk.
 
“The last decade of crash data show shows that teens continue to be over-represented in crashes and summertime marks an increase of fatal crashes for this age group,” said Mary Maguire, Director of Public and Legislative Affairs at AAA Northeast. “The data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 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% 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%)
•            Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
•            Texting (35%)
•            Red-light running (32%)
•            Aggressive driving (31%)
•            Drowsy driving (25%)
•            Driving without a seatbelt (17%)
 
“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Ms. Maguire. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But actions speak louder than words.  Remember to model good behavior because your teen won’t take your advice seriously if you don’t follow it yourself.”
 
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.
 
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 “DOs 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.
 
AAA Northeast is a not-for-profit auto club with 63 offices in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, New Hampshire and New York, providing more than 5.7 million local AAA members with travel, insurance, finance, and auto-related services.
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