Teen Driving: Welcome to the 100 Deadliest Days

We're not only entering the Dog Days of Summer, but we also are smack in the middle of the "100 Deadliest Days," a time when traffic fatalities in the United States involving a teen driver reaches an average of 10 per day.

As schools dismiss for the summer, teens spend more time on the road, more time with groups of their friends in the car and more time, unfortunately, texting while they drive. Welcome to the 100 Deadliest Days.

Over the past five years during the 100 Deadliest Day:

  • An average of 1,022 people died in crashes that involved a teen driver.
  • The daily average of fatalities involving a teen driver increases by 16 percent compared to the rest of the year.

AAA Foundation Study

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety released a follow-up study on June 1, 2016, confirming that nearly 60 percent of crashes involving teen drivers are a result of the teen being distracted while behind the wheel. The follow-up report adds an eighth year of data to an ongoing, comprehensive study of teen driving organized by AAA in conjunction with the University of Iowa. Researchers studied more than 2,200 videos recorded by in-dash cameras in the moments leading up to a crash. The latest analysis was consistent with data from the original 2007-2012 study that found the top three distractions for teen drivers were:

Talking or paying attention to other teens in the car: 15 percent

Talking, texting or using a cell phone in some other manner: 12 percent

Looking at or attending to something else in the vehicle: 11 percent.

Jurek Grabowski, research director for the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, says, "This new research shows that distraction continues to be one of the leading causes of crashes for teen drivers. By better understanding how teens are distracted on the road, we can better prevent deaths throughout the 100 Deadliest Days and the rest of the year."

What's a Parent to Do?

Parents can be the first line of defense in ensuring teen drivers are aware of the dangers of distracted driving. Another recent AAA survey found that 50 percent of teens admitted to reading an email or text while driving in the previous 30 days. AAA encourages parents to:

  • Have early and frequent conversations with their teens about the dangers of distracted driving.
  • Create a parent-teen driving agreement that lays out family rules against distracted driving.
  • Serve as an example by minimizing distractions while driving.

State Rules Offer Assistance

Parents in New Jersey also have the assurance of a strict set of state rules regarding distracted driving in general and teen driving restrictions.

First, use of cell phones for texting or talking is illegal in New Jersey for all drivers, not just teens.

Second, New Jersey implements a three-step process for teens to get their driver's license that includes restrictions so students learn to drive without distractions:

Examination permit: Teens must pass a knowledge test, a vision test and a 6-point ID requirement to get the examination permit.

Six-month supervised driving period: During this time, the driver must be accompanied by an adult in the front seat, is restricted to driving between 5 a.m. and 11 p.m. and cannot have more than one passenger besides the adult. Most importantly, the driver is not allowed to use a cell phone, video game or other hand-held device.

One-year unsupervised driving period: The same basic restrictions apply during this time except that the teen does not have to be accompanied by an adult. Restrictions to one passenger and on use of devices still apply for this probationary period.

After the restricted periods, if age 18, the teen can receive an unrestricted driver's license.

AAA North Jersey strives to see our roadways become safer for all our clients and visitors through education efforts. Distracted driving is deadly driving, so help us make your summer travels safer by encouraging your teens to turn off the distractions. Contact us for more ways to make our highways safer.

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