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‘100 Deadliest Days’ begin

Speeding, drinking and driving and distraction are the three major factors that contribute to fatal teen crashes during the summer driving period, according to the AAA Foundation.

Nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers in the past five years during what AAA refers to as the 100 Deadliest Days – the period from Memorial Day and Labor Day.

“Crash data shows that teens are a vulnerable driver group with a higher probability of being involved in crashes,” Dr. David Yang, executive director of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, stated in a news release. “And while teens may make mistakes when first learning to drive, it is important to continue educating them about safety behind the wheel, so they avoid the reckless behaviors that put themselves and others at risk on the road.”

According to AAA Foundation research, nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel. The foundation says crashes for teen drivers “increase significantly” during the summer because teens are out of school and driving more.

In the past five summers, an average of 700 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers.

According to the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, nearly half of teen drivers reported speeding on a residential street in the past 30 days, nearly 40 percent said they sped on the freeway and one-in-six teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in the summer tested positive for alcohol. More than half of teen drivers reported reading a text message or email while driving in the last 30 days, and nearly 40 percent said they sent a text or email while driving.

Additional AAA Foundation research found, through the use of in-vehicle dash-cam videos of teen crashes, that distraction was involved in 58 percent of teen crashes, about four times as many as federal estimates.

AAA advises teen drivers to put their phones out of reach, mind the speed limit and abstaining from impairing substances such as alcohol and marijuana. It also advises parents to talk to teens “early and often” about refraining from dangerous behavior while driving, teach by example and minimize their own risky behavior while driving, and making a parent-teen driving pact to set family rules for teen drivers.

“Parents have plenty to be concerned about as their teen hits the road this summer,” Georjeane Blumling, vice president of Public Affairs for AAA Tidewater Virginia, stated in the news release. “Teens are making deadly mistakes on the road. Parents are the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel.”