Teen Drivers: Summer marks 100 deadliest days

(KNPN) – School is out for most teens and that means more time to be on the road.

Statistics show that between Memorial Day and Labor Day, teens tend to have the most accident fatalities.

During that time, the average number of deaths from crashes involving drivers 16 to 19 years old increased by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year, according to the American Automobile Association (AAA).

The Missouri State Highway Patrol has since deemed them the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers.

“The biggest killer of our youth from ages 15 to 19 is traffic crashes. It tops suicide, it tops homicides, it tops drug overdose, it tops everything,” said Sgt. Jacob Angle with the Highway Patrol. “It’s the single biggest killer of our youth. I think it’s very important and we need to focus on that.

“It’s obvious something is going on there. Our youth are behind the wheel and maybe they’re doing activities that are marginal that they shouldn’t be doing.”

Angle said there are several reasons why teen-related crashes may be happening.

Research suggests more time on the road, inexperience and driving distractions are the biggest factors that affect teen crashes.

Angle said the “100 Deadliest Days” are the time of year when kids are out of school, have more independence and have more time to make decisions that can be harmful.

According to AAA, teens are more likely to be looking down or operating their cellphones rather than talking or listening in the critical seconds leading up to a crash.

Texting while driving has become the latest evolution of distracted driving. Distracted driving always has been around, Angle said. But drivers nowadays are used to being instantly connected, and the cellphone tends to be a distraction.

According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol website, there were 766 vehicle fatalities in 2014 and 139 people were killed due to young drivers.

So far this year, there have been 325 crash-related fatalities in the state of Missouri.

AAA offers several tips for parents to help keep teen drivers safe on the road.

It suggests minimizing the amount of time teens are on the road and to limit the number of passengers that are in the car.

According to the AAA website, “The best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving, where parents can share their wisdom accumulated over many years of driving.”