Many people view Memorial Day as the beginning of summer, and Labor Day typically signals its end. We celebrate the days in-between for their sunshine and warm weather, but safety experts pay particular attention to this time of the year for a different reason.
The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are also the deadliest days on the roads for teenagers, with fatalities far surpassing any other time of year — including travel in snow, ice and rain.
During this period in 2016, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, an average of 10 people died every day in a crash that involved a teenager. That’s a 14% jump compared to average daily statistics during the rest of the year.
Several factors contribute to making this such a dangerous time, and as school lets out for summer and more families head out on vacations, there’s no better to time to learn more about how to protect you and your family on the road.
What Makes Summer Days So Deadly
It’s important to realize what contributes to the danger of summer days so that you can be aware of how it can affect you. Some of the main reasons for more frequent crashes involving teens during the summer months include:
- More time on the road. Because they’re out of school, teens spend more time behind the wheel, which often leads to more crashes. In the past five years, more than 1,600 people died in collisions involving teen drivers during the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
- Speeding. Nearly 30% of all motor vehicle deaths involving teenagers during summer are speed related, according to AAA findings. In fact, speeding is considered one of the top three mistakes that teens make when learning to drive.
- Driving at night. Nighttime driving plays a significant role in increased accidents, particularly for teens. During the 100 deadliest days of summer, statistics show a 22% increase in the number of nighttime crashes involving teens compared to the rest of the year.
- Distracted driving. Distraction is considered a factor in 60% of teen-involved crashes. That includes distractions by passengers in the car, looking at the speedometer too long, talking on the phone and texting. Distracted teens are less likely to notice stop signs and often aren’t focused on what’s happening around them, AAA found.
Hazards for Other Family Drivers
It’s not just teenagers who are at an increased risk for accidents during this time. Everyone who gets behind the wheel during summer months has a greater set of obstacles and challenges, the most common of which are:
- Traffic congestion. Whether you’re heading across country for a family vacation or are just traveling a couple of hours to spend a day at a theme park, you’ll have plenty of company on the roads. More cars are on the road during these months than any other time of the year, and with that comes the increased likelihood of crashes. Traffic jams may cause drivers to make unsafe moves, such as abruptly changing lanes or driving on the shoulder of the road.
- Construction. Summer is a prime time for construction on roadways, and that means closed lanes and slowed traffic. Even if you’re familiar with the route, roads may be redirected temporarily to accommodate for the construction, which can lead to confusion and, unfortunately, crashes.
- Increased alcohol use. Alcohol-related crashes increase during summer months, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and they spike even higher on the Fourth of July. On the weekends, the number of crashes related to alcohol more than doubles, and the rate of alcohol-impaired drivers is four times higher at night than during the day.
Improve Family Driving Safety with Training
With so many hazards facing drivers and their passengers during the summer, it’s crucial for families to learn how to navigate the roads safely. Learning the proper way to manage everything from bad weather to distracted drivers on the roads (as well as distractions inside your vehicle) can provide you with tools that can save lives — including your own.
Smith System’s Driving Family video offers the kind of real-world insight that comes from more than 65 years of teaching commercial drivers how to be safer on the road. Using those same insights, Smith applies the tried-and-true Smith5Keys® principles to family drivers, empowering you to be safer every time you get behind the wheel.
Whether you’re driving across town or across the country, stay safe this summer and avoid becoming one of the 1,000 lives lost during the 100 deadliest days of summer. With Smith System’s techniques, you can improve own driving skills, provide your teen driver with the tools and knowledge that could save his or her life and make the roads safer.