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Make it a safe summer

Now that summer is here socially, if not astronomically, teens are going to be doing a lot more driving. And, according to the AAA Foundation, that can be dangerous.

Due to their inexperience, teens have a higher probability of being involved in a crash than more experienced drivers. And they drive more during the summer — heading to work, to volunteer opportunities, to summer sports training, to vacations, to friends’ houses and more.

Teens need to drive in order to gain experience, of course, so we’re not suggesting their parents take the keys and restrict their movements for the summer. We are suggesting, however, that parents continue educating their children about safety behind the wheel and making sure they are avoiding risky behaviors.

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 suggests that teen drivers put their phones out of reach, mind the speed limit and abstain from impairing substances.

It also advises parents to talk to teens “early and often” about refraining from dangerous behavior while driving; to teach by example by minimizing their own risky behavior while driving; and to make a driving pact to set family rules for teen drivers.

With the help of parents and other responsible adults in our community, we can help make this summer a safe one for everyone on Suffolk’s roads.