Little Rock parents of teens should know that we are in the period of time known in the automobile safety world as the "100 Deadliest Days of Summer." The approximate hundred days are book-ended by Memorial Day in May and Labor Day in September.
These months are notorious for the higher number of traffic fatalities involving teenage drivers.
Why is it so dangerous now?
The halcyon days of summer are particularly dangerous for teenage drivers. While auto accidents are a real threat year-round and collisions are the number one cause of death for teenagers, during the hundred-day period that rate rises 26%. In fact, during these summer months, on average, 260 teenagers die as a result of an auto accident each month.
Distraction plays major role
In past eras, inexperienced teen drivers have always faced heightened risks of crashing and being hurt or killed. It takes years of experience behind the wheel to learn how to drive defensively in challenging conditions, and teens are at a distinct disadvantage here.
But teen drivers in past generations had far fewer distractions at hand to divert their attention from the road ahead. Today's teens are bombarded 24/7 by pinging cellphones delivering messages, status updates, email notifications and calls. It's gotten so serious that it's estimated by safety experts that as many as 60% of collisions involving at least one teen driver are caused by distracted driving.
Which distractions are most deadly?
While it's tempting to blame technology and its myriad devices, as it turns out, the number one distraction at play in wrecks involving teenage drivers is their passengers. Research indicates that 15% of collisions with young drivers were related to interactions with others riding in the vehicle.
Cellphone usage came in second with 12% of wrecks related to a driver's interactions with their phones while talking or texting.
What's a parent to do?
While it might be tempting to swath your teen in cotton wool and banish them from driving or even riding with another teen driver, that's a hopeless option that would actually be counterproductive. After all, the only way for inexperienced drivers to get the experience that will make them safer drivers is to drive.
What proactive parents can do is share this information about this dangerous hundred-day span with their teenage drivers to increase their awareness of the risks they face when they are behind the wheel.
Should an accident occur that injures your teen, you will need to take the steps to insure that their medical needs are met and that their legal rights to seek compensation are preserved.