JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new study shows teen drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly car crash over the next 100 days of summer. And while some don't consider it summer, the first few weeks children return to school are among the deadliest.
The AAA study found that the three months are the deadliest for inexperienced teen drivers, ages 16 and 17. Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the number of deadly wrecks involving teens climbs 15 percent, compared to the rest of the year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
The latest stats show 60 percent of young drivers killed in a crash weren’t wearing a seatbelt and distracted driving plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes.
“You’re not paying attention to what’s coming up: pedestrians, bicyclists, other cars, red lights, stop lights," Sgt. Darren Dillon from the Orlando Police Department said
An instructor who taught performance driving to race car drivers for more than 20 years said Thursday that these days, the track might be a safer place than the roads, considering the number of distractions behind the wheel.
“When you're in the car, most students don't realize that their focus has to be completely on driving and what is going on around them and not what's happening inside the car or what they're thinking about at the time,” said Mark Allen, a manager at All Florida Safety Institute.
Teens aren’t able to process things fast enough, and parents need to realize that a car can be a 4,000-pound weapon, Allen said.
Speeding, distractions and a lack of seat belts are the three reasons teens are at risk, according to AAA. But Allen said these can be prevented.
“Take those phones and shut them off,” Allen said. “Put them in the glove box. Put them on silent. That way, you can check later to see what happened, but things can wait. We're not in that big of a hurry. You don't need that information right now, and someone doesn't need you that bad right now.”
Experts say talk to your teen about these risky behaviors and model good driving skills when they’re in the car. You can also make a driving agreement that lists specific rules.