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The 100 Deadliest Days of Teen Driving have begun

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RICHMOND (WSLS 10) - According to AAA, deaths involving teen drivers typically rise following Memorial Day.

The time period is called the '100 Deadliest Days.'

Over the last 5 years, more than 5,000 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during that time period.

AAA says nearly 60% of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel.

Read the full report below.

In Virginia, teen driver fatalities for the first quarter of 2016, according the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), were at the same level as last year with 11 teens lost.  Crashes for teen drivers, however, increase significantly during the summer months because teens drive more during this time of year. Over the past five years during the "100 Deadliest Days" across the nation, an average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers.  The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 16-19 increased by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year

This year's new follow-up report from the AAA Foundation is part of the most comprehensive eight-year research project ever conducted into crash videos of teen drivers. In collaboration with researchers at the University of Iowa, the AAA Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos captured from in-car dash cameras. The latest report compared new crash videos with those captured from 2007 -2012 and found consistent trends in the top three distractions for teens when behind the wheel in the moments leading up to a crash:

  • Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle: 15 percent of crashes
  • Talking, texting or operating a cell phone: 12 percent of crashes
  • Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: 11 percent of crashes

"Each and every day during the summer driving season, an average of 10 people die as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver across America" said Martha Mitchell Meade, Public and Government Affairs Manager for AAA. "Distraction has been and, according to this new research, continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes involving teen drivers. This knowledge should re-enforce the importance of a laser focus on teen driver safety among teens, their parents, educators and anyone who can impact young drivers' behavior behind the wheel."

Researchers also found that how teens use their cell phone when behind the wheel changed significantly over the course of the study.  In the moments leading up to a crash, teens were more likely to be texting or looking down at the phone than talking on it. This supports findings by Pew Research Center, which shows text messaging has become a key component in day-to-day interactions amongst teenagers. Fifty-five percent of teens spend time every day texting, sending an estimated 80 text messages per day.

"It's no secret that teens are often inextricably linked to their cell phones," said Meade. "Many teens are texting or using social media behind the wheel more often than in the past, which is making an already unsafe situation even worse."

Research by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute found that texting creates a crash risk 23 times worse than driving while not distracted. A recent AAA Foundation survey shows that nearly 50 percent of teen drivers admitted they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days. NHTSA's National Occupant Protection Use Survey also shows that from 2007 to 2014, the percentage of young drivers seen visibly manipulating a hand-held device quadrupled.

"Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in crashes involving a teen driver are people other than the teen themselves," continued Meade. "This shows that teen drivers can be a risk to everyone on the road and it is important to regulate their actions when behind the wheel."

Keeping cell phones out of the hands of teen drivers is a top priority for AAA. The Association's advocacy efforts are helping to protect teens by working to pass graduated driver licensing laws and teen wireless bans in states

In Virginia, it is illegal for teen drivers to use a cell phone while driving for any purpose other than an emergency situation, regardless of whether such device is or is not hand-held.  If the driver has an emergency, vehicle must be lawfully parked or stopped.

In preparation for the "100 Deadliest Days", AAA encourages parents to educate their teen about the dangers of distracted driving and monitor their actions behind the wheel.  Parents should:

  • Have conversations early and often about the dangers of distraction.
  • Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules against distracted driving.
  • Teach by example and minimize distractions when driving.

TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great 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.

Established by AAA in 1947, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable research and educational organization. Dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on our roads, the Foundation's mission is to prevent crashes and save lives through research and education about traffic safety. The Foundation has funded over 300 research projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them and minimize injuries when they do occur.  Visit www.AAAFoundation.org for more information on this and other research.

As North America's largest motoring and leisure travel organization, AAA provides more than 56 million members with travel, insurance, financial and automotive-related services. Since its founding in 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for the safety and security of all travelers. AAA clubs can be visited on the Internet at AAA.com.  Motorists can map a route, identify gas prices, find discounts, book a hotel and access AAA roadside assistance with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. Learn more at AAA.com/mobile.