CINCINNATI, OH (October 3, 2018) –Teens donning suits and beautiful dresses signal the start of Homecoming season at Cincinnati area high schools. As parents and teens create the last minute Homecoming to-do lists (pick up corsages and boutonnieres, make hair appointments, choosing perfect location for pictures) don’t forget to place “safe driving reminder” at the top of the list.
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States and there are a multitude of risks associated with Homecoming night festivities including nighttime driving, additional teen passengers and impaired driving.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teens are more likely than anyone else to be killed in an alcohol-related crash. Six teens ages 16 to 19 die every day from motor vehicle injuries.
In Ohio last year, there were more than 120 fatalities among drivers 16 to 20 years old. According to the Ohio Department of Public Safety, there were 636 crashes involving underage drivers who were drinking – eight of those resulted in a fatality.
“Homecoming night is great opportunity for teens to get dressed up for a night on the town with their friends,” said Jenifer Moore, AAA spokeswoman. “Unfortunately, it is also a night where tragedy can strike and change a teen’s future due to risky behavior such as driving while impaired or distracted.”
Research conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has identified several factors that increase the danger to teen drivers and their passengers:
- Nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel (i.e. other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, etc.)
- Nighttime driving, especially between the hours of 9 pm and midnight can be risky and 75 percent of all of Ohio teen night-time crashes occur between 9 pm and midnight.
- Distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes. The most frequent potentially-distracting behaviors were conversing or otherwise interacting with passengers and cell phone use.
Recognizing these risk factors can be useful in creating a safe driving plan for teens (both drivers and passengers) planning to attend Homecoming this fall.
AAA offers the following tips:
- Develop a safe driving plan: AAA encourages parents to make a safe driving plan with their teen, set a reasonable time to return home and talk with them about potential risks such as driving with a passenger and also while impaired or distracted.
- Discuss plans with other parents. Don't assume all parents share your values and will monitor your teen's actions as you would expect. Exchange phone numbers and talk with other parents and your teen's friends to ensure ample communication.
- Limit the number of passengers in a vehicle. Parents should limit the number of teens in the vehicle to the driver and one passenger. The teens may have plans to go “as a group” but they should drive in separate vehicles and enjoy the “group” when they reach their destinations (pictures, dinner, and dance).
- Say No to Alcohol. Remind your teen that it is against the law for anyone under the age of 21 to consume alcohol. Encourage teens to be prepared to appropriately handle peer pressure to drink alcohol by saying no. Do not serve alcohol to your teen or any other teen in your home.
- Don’t drive while impaired, distracted or drowsy:
- Remind teen passengers not to create distractions for the driver. No cell phone use while driving. Keep your eyes on the road and limit passenger interaction.
- Remind your teen that safe, responsible drivers do not combine drinking and driving.
- Remind your teen to not drive if they are drowsy after a long night of dancing. Sleepiness can slow reaction time, decrease awareness, and impair judgement.
- Remember defensive driving skills: teens will be on the road on a weekend night with adult drivers who may be driving impaired (from alcohol or drugs). They need to be attentive and watch for other drivers who may not be driving safely.
AAA provides automotive, travel and insurance services to 59 million members nationwide and more than three million members in Ohio. 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, non-profit corporation working on behalf of motorists, who can now map a route, find local gas prices, discover discounts, book a hotel and track their roadside assistance service with the AAA Mobile app for iPhone, iPad and Android. For more information, visit www.AAA.com.