For teens, summer means freedom from school, time with their friends and whole days full of exploration and activity. It also means an increased risk of deadly car crashes.
As we mentioned in an earlier blog post, the stretch between Memorial Day and Labor Day sees a spike in fatal car crashes every year. And these “100 Deadliest Days” don’t end with a whimper. They end with a bang. Far too many bangs. Labor Day is the second deadliest holiday of the year, claiming over 300 lives each year.
Four things parents can do
Teens headed back to school may look at Labor Day as one last chance to cut loose before the summer’s end. For parents, that can mean the weekend serves as one last hurdle to clear before your child returns to a more structured and responsible daily routine.
Here are four things you can do to help your teen driver clear that last hurdle:
- Talk to your teen about drinking. There are all kinds of reasons that driving under the influence shouldn’t be a problem for teens. But it is. According to the California DMV, the HBD (“has been drinking”) crash rate for teen drivers is nearly twice the rate for drivers of all other ages. Additionally, the reports that ValuePenguin compiled from National Traffic and Highway Safety Administration data show that more than 36% of all Labor Day accidents involve drinking. Parents want to talk to their teens about the problem because it’s too severe to ignore.
- Make sure your teen leaves plenty of time to drive safely. Speeding is the leading cause of fatal crashes for California drivers between the ages of 16 and 19. The California DMV reports that speeding is a leading factor in 35.3% of all fatal crashes involving teens. Helping your teen set reasonable expectations for travel time could help save lives.
- Help your teen stay focused on the road. How well does your teen cut out distractions? Even if your teen avoids the phone, there are still plenty of other distractions. Eating, drinking, putting on makeup and changing the radio station can all take your teen’s hands and eyes away from the demands of safe driving. Teens are also particularly prone to letting their friends distract them. But the number one cause of distracted driving—even more than cellphones—is a wandering mind. Just like the rest of us, teens need to focus on their driving.
- Get your teen to buckle up. Whether as a driver or passenger, your teen needs to buckle up. The National Safety Council (NSC) reports that seat belts prevent deaths in approximately 45% of all potentially fatal accidents. In 2018, had everyone worn their seatbelts, the NSC estimates that 163 people would still be alive.
Of course, these things are all important every time your teen gets behind the wheel—not just over the Labor Day weekend.
Not just for teens
Because they’re still learning how to drive, teens may need these reminders more than drivers of other ages. But these tips are good for all of us to remember. Labor Day traffic puts everyone at extra risk, so everyone needs to drive extra carefully.