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Letter to the Editor: Help Teens Survive the 100 Deadliest Days
July 20, 2020
Anyone with a teenager knows that COVID-19 restrictions and the curtailing of normal summer activities is making for a challenging summer. That means more risks this time of year for teen drivers than ever before. With uncertainty surrounding summer jobs, sports, camps and other activities that would normally consume their days, young drivers have more time on their hands and on the road. The potential for tragedy is real not only for teens, but those who share the road with them.
Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018 during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s more than seven people a day each summer. Our data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults.
Novice teen drivers will make mistakes in the roughly 5-year learning curve required to achieve safe driving competency. Even the best and brightest teen drivers have an increased risk of being involved in a deadly crash compared with experienced adult drivers. That’s why adding even one reckless behavior like speeding, drinking and/or taking drugs, or distractions from passengers or mobile devices can prove deadly in a split second. Some 59 percent of all teen crashes involve some form of driver inattention.
We can help teens survive the “100 Deadliest Days” first by modeling safe driving behavior. Parents and other adults can teach by example and help ensure young drivers are prepared for the responsibilities of the road. Now is the time to begin potentially life-saving conversations with a teen you love to set and enforce rules and discuss the risks behind the wheel. The AAA Parent Coaching Guide 2020 is among the valuable resources at TeenDriving.AAA.com to minimize confrontations about expectations.
COVID-related challenges this summer multiply the need for safety many times over. Understanding the risks can help Oklahoma teens and their parents avoid devastating consequences.