100 Most Dangerous Days of Summer for Teen Drivers
Schools will be out for summer soon and so will new teen drivers. With less responsibility and more free time, teens will be hitting the road for summer fun without parental supervision. However, this also means there’s a greater risk of car accidents, which could be deadly.
In the United States, auto insurance companies and transportation agencies have coined the phrase “100 Deadliest Days of Summer” as a warning for when the greatest number of fatal crashes among teens occur on the road. To keep your family safe and avoid injuries, start by knowing when these most dangerous days are and preparing for ways to keep your teen accountable behind the wheel to prevent severe automobile accidents.
What Are the 100 Deadliest Days of Summer?
The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is considered to be the most dangerous time for teen drivers to be on the road. According to the Florida Teen Safe Driving Coalition, there is a sixteen percent increase in fatalities among young drivers during this time, as compared to the rest of the year. Young drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 are at higher risk of exposure to car crashes if proper precaution is not taken. This period of the summer is especially risky for the newest drivers, aged 16 and 17, who are three times more likely than an adult driver to get into a fatal car accident during that time, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
What Is the Deadliest Day for Teen Drivers?
The 4th of July, in particular, is an especially dangerous day for driving amongst people of all ages. Because of the holiday and people wanting to celebrate, there’s an increase of drunk driving. Between the years of 2016 and 2020, 1,390 people were killed in 4th of July weekend car accidents, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Of those, 41% were driving drunk.
Why Are These Days So Dangerous for Teen Drivers?
Teens drivers are at higher risk during the 100 Deadliest Days because many of them are newly licensed. This means that they have much less experience driving and may not yet have the skills to successfully avoid a crash. On top of that, teens also have a lot more unstructured time during the summer, which means that they are more likely to be spending a lot more time on the road. Teens are also more likely than adults to have feelings of invincibility and may, therefore, take more risks, like driving impaired or without a seat belt.
How Many Teens Are Killed During the 100 Deadliest Days?
According to the AAA, 30 percent of all car accidents involving teen drivers occur during the 100 Deadliest Days. Across the country, the total number of teen crashes averages around 2,081 annually, meaning that around 630 occur during the summer months. This works out to be more than 7 people killed per day during the summer, compared to the average of 6 per day that occurs the rest of the year.
Who Is Most at Risk During the 100 Deadliest Days?
While all teens are more at risk during the 100 Deadliest Days, certain teens may be even more at risk than others. According to the CDC’s Teen Drivers Fact Sheet, the three groups of teens most likely to get into a car accident while driving are:
- Male teens: Male teenage drivers are around 3 times as likely to get into a car accident as female teenage drivers.
- Newly licensed drivers: Teen drivers who just received their licenses are around 1.5 times as likely to get into an accident in the first month of having their license.
- Drivers with Passengers: Teen drivers who have passengers, especially passengers their own age, are more likely to be distracted or engage in risky behaviors while driving.
Where Are Drivers Most at Risk?
Certain cities in the United States are more dangerous than others for driving and can therefore increase the risk for teen drivers. Florida is considered the worst state for driving. Three of the five top most dangerous cities for driving are located in Florida and include:
- Jacksonville (#1)
- Orlando (#3)
- Tampa (#4)
Jacksonville has 54% more drivers who are uninsured than the national average. The city also has a rate of drunk driving accidents that is 66% greater than the average rate. Orlando and Tampa are not far behind.
How Dangerous Is Driving in Florida?
The national average is 6.6 driving deaths per 100,000 people, with 1.7 of those car accidents related to alcohol. The statistics for Florida’s most dangerous cities are below:
- Jacksonville: 10.9 driving deaths, 2.9 alcohol-related
- Orlando: 9.1 driving deaths, 2.1 alcohol-related
- Tampa: 10 driving deaths, 2.3 alcohol-related
What Are the Most Common Causes of Teen Car Crashes?
The CDC reports that there are 8 “danger zones” that increase the risk of car accidents in teens. These range from simply being inexperienced to actively engaging in risky behaviors while driving.
Not Wearing a Seat Belt
Many teens may be concerned with how they present themselves to their peers. Some may choose not to wear a seat belt as a way to look cool in front of their friends. However, failing to wear a seat belt significantly increases the risk of injuries or death in the event of a car accident. In 2020, more than half of teens who were killed in a car accident hadn’t been wearing a seat belt.
Because teen drivers aren’t as experienced as adult drivers, they’re more likely to get distracted while behind the wheel. Between listening to music and using a smartphone while driving, there are many distractions that could prevent a teen from focusing fully on the road. Even something as quick as dialing a phone number can increase the risk of a car crash by 6 times. Texting is even worse because it can be 23 times as risky.
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, 31% of fatal car accidents involving teen drivers also involved speeding. Older teens may be more at risk for speeding than younger ones because, while they are still inexperienced, they also have more confidence in their driving. Some teens may actively drive in an aggressive manner while others may simply fail to adjust their speed for the weather or traffic conditions.
Inexperienced drivers are more likely to get distracted while on the road. They’re also more likely to not have the skills needed to avoid an accident if a dangerous situation arises, whether it’s caused by other drivers or environmental conditions. Plus, if they’re more confident, they may engage in riskier driving behaviors than more experienced drivers would.
Driving With Passengers
Driving with passengers can be a distraction to a teen driver, especially if the passengers are around their own age. The presence of other teens in the car increases the likelihood of a teen driver engaging in risky behaviors behind the wheel. With only one peer as a passenger, a teen driver may, according to the NHTSA, be 2½ times more likely to drive in a risky manner, while with multiple teen passengers, they’re 3 times as likely to.
Driving at Night
Driving at night can increase the risk of a car accident. This is partly due to the decreased visibility during that time that an inexperienced driver would be less able to compensate for while on the road. Additionally, teen drivers who are behind the wheel at night are also more likely to be driving while drowsy.
Driving while drowsy is dangerous for anyone who gets behind the wheel. Teens may be more at risk, even during the summer, because many of them don’t get a lot of sleep. A teen who gets less than six hours of sleep is at risk of driving while drowsy, which is extremely dangerous, especially at night.
Some teens may engage in reckless driving behaviors due to peer pressure, a desire to impress their friends, or a sense of invincibility and confidence. Reckless driving behaviors may include speeding, tailgating, failing to wear a seat belt, driving while under the influence, texting while driving, and more.
Driving While Impaired
While it’s not legal for teenagers to drink or to otherwise be under the influence of drugs, many still do. There could be a lot of peer pressure to drink or do drugs and then drive. Even over-the-counter or prescription medications could impair a teen’s driving capabilities. Reaction time can be slowed, hand-eye coordination can be impaired, and judgment can be negatively impacted by any type of impairment, which could result in a crash. Additionally, even legal substances are illegal for teens in the United States, who are underage, so getting arrested is also a possibility.
What Are Some Ways To Prevent Teen Car Accidents?
Accidents can always be prevented. It starts by having honest conversations with teens about the real-world implications of careless driving and helping them understand the tips and tricks to stay safe while they have their summer adventures.
Avoid Driving at Night, if Possible
Nighttime drowsiness and light reduction can both impair our driving ability at night. The reduced visibility on the road means teens are more likely to miss oncoming traffic signals or other vehicles on the road. As it gets later in the night, they can also become more tired and less alert. Talk to your teen about setting up a driving curfew during the summer so they can make it home safely.
It can be easy to get distracted while driving if a friend is yelling the lyrics to a song next to you, or a backseat passenger is telling the driver about missing the correct turn. Talk to your teen about limiting how many people carpool together to create a safe space within the vehicle. This also helps to reduce any pressure to act cool or impress their friends.
It may also be wise to put the driver’s phone on “Do not disturb” so they aren’t tempted to answer texts or make phone calls while driving. Depending on where you live, there may be distracted driver laws that could result in a fine, a ticket, or even an arrest for behaviors like texting while driving. In Florida, for example, it’s not illegal to use a smartphone while driving in some instances, but certain actions like texting are always prohibited and could result in a ticket.
Always Wear a Seat Belt
The easiest way to reduce the risk of dying in a car accident is to wear a seatbelt. Without wearing one, vehicle collisions become more dangerous if our teens’ bodies are not secure. By ensuring teens wear seatbelts, they can prevent future injuries if they find themselves involved in an accident on the road. Additionally, wearing a seat belt can prevent a fine or a ticket. Most states have seat belt laws that require everyone, including passengers, to wear one. In Florida, for example, the driver and the passenger in the front seat have to wear a seat belt and anyone in the back seat who is under 18 must also wear one or sit in a child car seat.
Follow the Law
There are laws, both at the federal and state level to protect all drivers and passengers. These laws prohibit certain driving behaviors such as the following:
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Texting while driving
- Impaired driving
Simply following the laws can help to prevent many of the risky behaviors that can result in car accidents for teen drivers.
Follow the GDL System
All states in the United States have a GDL (Graduated Driver Licensing) system for teen drivers. This is the system that separates the process of getting a full driver’s license into several stages:
- Learner’s permit
- Provisional driver’s license
- Full license
Different states have different requirements for the number of hours teens must drive with an adult or a teacher to qualify for the next stage of licensing. For example, in Florida, teens have to have a learner’s permit for a year, plus 50 supervised hours of driving with a parent (10 of those hours at night), and a driving skills test before qualifying for a graduated license, which allows the teen to drive alone but carries restrictions on when they can drive. Georgia, by contrast, doesn’t have a set number of hours of driving experience to qualify for the provisional license but does require 1 year with a permit and passing a driving test.
These restrictions on when a teen driver is allowed to drive alone and who they can drive with are there for everyone’s protection and help to reduce accidents. Make sure that your teen is following all restrictions on the license that they possess. Those rules are there for teen drivers’ own safety as well as that of those around them.
We Work to Keep Teen Drivers Safe in the Summer
At Farah & Farah, our priority is to help keep our community safe. Teens may be growing up and gaining newfound independence, but they still have a lot to learn, especially when driving. It may be scary to think about the 100 most dangerous days of summer for teens, but with the right precautions, car accidents can be avoided.
If you or your teen has been injured in an accident, reach out today. Our team can help you navigate the legal process with auto insurance companies and help you receive compensation for your losses.