For many, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day signals lazy pool days and barbecue-filled afternoons — but for others, the months when kids are out of school can bring grave danger. Roadside-services provider AAA calls this period the “100 Deadliest Days,” and with good reason: The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers was 17 percent higher per day compared with other days of the year.
Related: Tips for Keeping Teen Drivers Safe
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that over the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days, and nearly two-thirds of those injured or killed are people other than the teen behind the wheel. AAA analyzed fatality crash data from 2013 to 2017 to determine the biggest safety risks related to teen drivers and determined the major contributing factors.
Here are the three biggest causes of teen-driving fatalities during the 100 Deadliest Days:
AAA says speeding, which significantly increases the severity of a crash, was a contributing factor in 28 percent of the fatalities — and it’s a growing problem. In the agency’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, nearly half of teen drivers reported speeding on a residential street during the past 30 days, while 40 percent copped to speeding on a highway.
2. Impaired Driving
Impaired driving was cited as a factor in 17 percent of fatal crashes involving a teen driver — particularly alarming, says AAA, given that teens cannot legally drink alcohol. Data shows that 1 out of 6 teen drivers involved in a fatal crash during the summer tested positive for alcohol.
3. Distracted Driving
Distracted driving was found to be a cause in 9 percent of fatal crashes, but AAA says that number is likely higher given that it’s difficult for law enforcement to detect distraction after a crash. It’s obviously a problem, however. In the Traffic Safety Culture Index, 52 percent of teen drivers reported reading a text message or email while driving, and nearly 40 percent reported sending a text or email.
More From Cars.com:
- Stats Show Teens Are Bad Drivers; Here’s How to Help Them Be Safe
- For Real, Parents of Teen Drivers: Some of Y’all Are Dropping the Ball
- Keep Your Teen Driver Safe With These Cars
- Which States Are Sweet and Which Ones Suck for Teen Drivers?
AAA is putting the heat on parents to take precautions to help reverse these deadly trends. 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 their own risky behavior when driving
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers
The teenagers themselves need to step it up, too.
“Teens should also prepare for summer driving by practicing safety during every trip,” Dr. Bill Van Tassel, AAA manager of driver training programs, said in a statement. “Storing your phone out of reach, minding the speed limit, and staying away from impairing substances like alcohol and marijuana will help prevent many crashes from ever occurring.”
Cars.com’s Editorial department is your source for automotive news and reviews. In line with Cars.com’s long-standing ethics policy, editors and reviewers don’t accept gifts or free trips from automakers. The Editorial department is independent of Cars.com’s advertising, sales and sponsored content departments.