AAA warning: 100 Deadliest Days for teen driving have begun

WASHINGTON — AAA says we’ve entered the 100 Deadliest Days for driving, in which fatal crashes involving teen drivers have been known to climb. It has numbers to show what’s behind the surge, and add that those factors, distressingly, are on the rise.

AAA says Memorial Day is the start of the 100 Deadliest Days, and adds that crashes involving teens go up because they drive more during this time of the year. But a new AAA study indicates that 60 percent of teen crash deaths involve distracted driving, which can be eliminated through a few good habits.

An average of 1,022 people died in each of the past five years in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days — that’s a touch more than 10 a day, and an increase of 16 percent per day over the rest of the year, AAA says.

AAA says distractions, particularly from cellphones, are the culprit in a huge amount of teen crashes. Citing dashcam footage of more than 2,200 crashes involving teenage drivers between 2007 and 2012, AAA finds that in 15 percent of the crashes, drivers were talking to passengers; in 12 percent, they were talking or texting on a phone; in 11 percent, they were looking at, or for, something in the vehicle.

The advocacy group adds that a study by the Virginia Tech transportation Institute found that texting while driving, among drivers of all ages, increased the risk of crashing 23 times over undistracted driving. And a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study found that the percentage of young drivers visibly using a device while driving quadrupled between 2007 and 2014.

AAA says parents need to keep cellphones out of the hands of teen drivers, and suggests three steps:

  • Have conversations about the dangers of distracted driving — early and often;
  • Write up an agreement with a teen driver about family rules and expectations regarding driving (they have a sample you can download from their website);
  • Teach by example — don’t drive distracted yourself.

AAA has tips for teen drivers and their families on its Keys2Drive site.

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