Risk of teen car accidents higher in summer

By Katherine Wartell

The freedom of summer can mean many things for teenagers, including late nights, late mornings and a lot more free time, but according to reports, the summer months are also the riskiest for teen drivers, with an increase in fatal crashes.

According to research by AAA, deadly crashes peak for teenagers during June, July and August. Approximately 422 teenagers die in traffic crashes during each of those months as compared to approximately 363 during the non-summer months.

About 3,000 teenagers die a year in motor vehicle crashes and they are four times more likely to crash than those in older age groups. According to the CDC, the highest risk factors are male teenage drivers, driving with other teenager passengers, driving at night when the crash risk is twice as high and newly licensed teenagers.

Lt. Josh Kyle with the Riley County Police Department said teenagers seem to get into the most trouble with distracted driving, intoxicated driving, and reckless driving like joy-riding when teens try to test the limits of the vehicle.

Kyle suggests that parents talk with their children to create a safety plan, an agreement so that teenagers know they can call their parent when they are in trouble with the knowledge that they won’t be harshly punished regardless of where they are calling from.

He said a lot of DUIs are related to not having a plan or to teenagers not knowing how they are going to get home otherwise and that parents should also make a plan with teenagers for situations in which teens feel uncomfortable riding as a passenger in someone else’s car.

Kyle said he was careful what kind of car he purchased for his own son and advised that parents not buy teenager boys high performance vehicles. According to the CDC, the death rate for teenage boys between 15 and 19 is two times higher than that of teenage girls.

Because parents can influence the behavior of their children, Kyle said it is important that parents model good driving for children and be conscious of their own driving habits.

With distracted driving being a high risk factor, those habits include what procedures parents go through when they need to use their phone in the car, like turning it off altogether, handing it to someone else in the car when a call or text comes in, using a hands-free system or pulling over to use their phones.

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