Teen drivers have very little experience at the wheel. Although the graduated licensing system does require that they attend educational courses and secure many hours of practice driving with an adult in a vehicle, they are still far from as competent and confident as drivers who commute to work every day.
Young adults at the wheel, even if they are responsible, have a greater risk of a crash than older motorists. Parents who allow their teens out on the road are often very anxious about the risks involved and eager to do whatever it takes to protect their children. Is the popular claim that it is more dangerous for teens to drive in the summer actually true?
Statistically, teens navigate the highest risks in the summer
Traffic safety organizations like AAA have long highlighted dangerous trends in traffic collisions. One issue they have sought to publicize in recent years is the surge in fatal traffic collisions involving teen drivers during the summer months each year. The hundred days between Memorial Day and Labor Day every year see the highest proportion of fatal teen crashes.
In other words, the summer is when young adults have the greatest risk of dying on the road. Numerous issues contribute to that elevated risk. Without school in session, teens may have more unsupervised time. They may also have a summer job that they have to drive back and forth to every day, and more miles on the road generally translates to more crash risk. When every young adult is out of school for the summer, parties maybe come more frequent and a bit wilder. Drunk driving, riding with passengers in the vehicle and driving later at night are all summer driving decisions teenagers may make that could increase their risk of a crash.
What can parents do to protect new drivers?
Obviously, it would not be practical or reasonable for parents to insist that their teenage drivers stay off the road when they aren’t in school. Still, they may need to discuss different driving rules for the summer months. Some parents limit the times of day that young drivers can have access to the vehicle. Other families impose limits on mobile phone use and the number of passengers a teen driver can have. Talking about intoxication and making sure young driver knows how to get home safely without driving if they drink at a party can also potentially save someone’s life.
Understanding the influences that impact teen crash risk can help parents to better protect their new drivers from one of the most significant threats to their life and safety.