HARTFORD, CT (June 4, 2021) – AAA is raising awareness about a dangerous intersection – the easing of COVID-19 restrictions… just as we head into the “100 Deadliest Days”, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when we typically see a sharp increase in fatal crashes involving teen drivers.
During the 100 Deadliest Days in Connecticut last year, when there were actually fewer people on the roads because of the pandemic, TEN people died in crashes involving a teen driver - twice as many as average – with victims ranging in age from 10 to 56. The fatal crashes occurred at all hours of day and night and spanned Fairfield, Litchfield, New Haven and Hartford Counties.
AAA analysis of Connecticut crash data during the 100 Deadliest Days indicates that more than 50 people died in crashes involving a teen driver over the ten year period from 2010-2019. That’s an average of about five people every summer.
“There are more deaths involving teen drivers during the summer months because teens tend to be on the roads more with unstructured time behind the wheel,” says Amy Parmenter, spokesperson for AAA in Greater Hartford. “As COVID-restrictions are lifted and summertime traffic picks up, it is critical that teens with far less experience behind the wheel, stay focused while driving, buckle up for every ride and drive within the posted speed limits.”
Years ago, Linda Strickland of West Hartford lost her 16-year-old son Alex in a summer crash. Her 19-year-old son was driving.
“Anything that can be done, any messaging parents can share would be worth it if the end result saves lives,” Strickland says. “It is excruciating to me knowing that other parents, families and siblings are bound to suffer as I have as the result of teen involved crashes in the coming months.”
Nationwide, more than 7,000 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2010 to 2019 during the “100 Deadliest Days”. That’s more than seven people a day each summer, compared to the rest of the year (six people per day).
The combination of schools closed for the summer, summer jobs and activities, and COVID-19 restrictions being lifted, could prove even more deadly as teens take to the road this summer.
- More than 50 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days” from 2010 to 2019.
- On average, more than 5 people die each year in crashes involving a teen driver during the 100 Deadliest Days
- TEN people died in crashes involving a teen driver in 2020, ranging in age from 10-56
Due to their inexperience, teen drivers are at a higher risk of crashes. According to the AAA Foundation 2019 Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72% of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:
- Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47%)
- Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
- Texting (35%)
- Red-light running (32%)
- Aggressive driving (31%)
- Drowsy driving (25%)
- Driving without a seatbelt (17%)
As teens take to the road this summer, especially with pandemic restrictions easing, AAA recommends that now is an excellent time to remind parents to model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them too. Parents should also consider having their teens complete a comprehensive driver education course to learn the rules of the road.
“Parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said Parmenter. “It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But we can’t just tell teens about the dangers. We must model good behavior as well.”
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 risky behavior when driving.
- Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
- Conduct at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen.
AAA suggests that summer is always a good time for adult drivers to practice safe driving behaviors with their teens. To support parents in conducting practice driving sessions AAA provides a free four-page guide to help parents coach their teens on how to drive safely, “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for Parents.” This guide offers behind-the-wheel lesson plans, including various “DOs and DON’Ts” to make the learning experience as helpful as possible.
AAA Teen Driver Website has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart Parent Session also offers excellent resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety: Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit www.AAAFoundation.org.
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AAA provides automotive, travel, and insurance services to more than 62 million members nationwide and more than one million members in Connecticut. AAA advocates for the safety and mobility of its members and has been committed to outstanding road service for more than 100 years. AAA is a non-stock, membership corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can map a route, access a COVID travel restriction map, find local gas prices and electric vehicle charging stations, discover discounts, book a hotel, and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app (AAA.com/mobile) for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information on joining or renewing a Membership, visit www.AAA.com