The summer driving season poses a greater risk for teens than for any other group of drivers. The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day have come to be known as the 100 Deadliest Days because teen auto collision deaths increase by 26% during this period. Sadly, an average of 260 teens are killed in car crashes each month during the summer.
Blame this on the increased teen driver traffic as teens commute to and from their summer jobs, the carefree attitude of summertime, and the busy social schedules that come with the summer months.
But there are certain things you can do to stay safe behind the wheel during this season of increased risk. Here are three summer driving safety tips for teens.
1. Driving and Substances Don’t Mix
First, some good news: teen drivers are less likely to drink and drive than adults, based on data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Now, the bad news: teen drivers’ risk of crashing after drinking is far higher than adults’ risk. In 2019, an estimated 17% of vehicle crash fatalities among passenger vehicle drivers ages 16-17 had blood alcohol rates at or above 0.08% (the legal limit in many states).
Drugs and alcohol impair a driver’s ability to process information and respond timely. Drivers under the influence have less muscle control than normal, poor coordination, and loss of balance. This dramatically inhibits a driver’s ability to drive safely. On top of all that, teen drivers are inexperienced in driving, so they don’t have an established set of skills or muscle memory to help them compensate for the effects of the substances.
Never drive while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Underage drinking is illegal, so you shouldn’t be drinking anyway. But if you ever find yourself unable to drive because of drugs or alcohol (even strong pain medication can impair your senses), call someone to come get you.
2. Avoid Distractions at All Costs!
The CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (YRBSS) found that many teens are tolerating distractions while driving. Their 2019 survey data showed that 39% of high school students who drove in the past 30 days texted or emailed while driving on at least one of those days. Interestingly, even the “smart kids” are falling for this dangerous behavior. Texting or emailing while driving was just as common for students with A or B averages as it was for students with C, D, or F averages.
And just how risky is distracted driving? In 2019, 3,142 people were killed in car accidents because of distracted drivers. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that sending or reading a text takes your eyes off the road for about five seconds, and at 55 miles per hour, this is the equivalent of driving the length of a football field without opening your eyes. No sane person would try this, so why risk texting while driving?
But it’s not just texting that’s a distraction. Anything that pulls your attention away from the road is a distraction. Things like:
Talking to other passengers
Eating and drinking
Doing hair or makeup
None of these distractions are worth the risk. When you’re in the driver’s seat, focus on the road.
3. Make Sure You and Your Car Can Handle the Heat
As temperatures increase, so does the strain on your vehicle and your body.
To make sure your vehicle is able to get you safely from Point A to Point B, get a summer maintenance tune-up. A qualified mechanic can make sure your fluid levels are topped up, your oil is fresh, your tire pressure is hot-asphalt ready, and your cooling system is working properly to keep your engine from overheating.
To keep yourself safe from the heat, drink lots of cold water, stay in the shade whenever possible, and if you don’t have air conditioning, keep the windows cracked while the vehicle is in motion to keep fresh air circulating.
Need More Safe Driving Tips?
Your teen driver’s ed course gives you a solid foundation to keep you driving safely all year long. And with affordable, convenient online driver’s ed courses, you can be road-ready in no time. Enroll today!