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Parents: Are Your Teen Drivers Safe This Summer?

Sometimes called “The Hundred Deadly Days of Summer,” the period stretching from Memorial Day to Labor Day sees abnormally high rates of teenage deaths due to automobile accidents.Car crashes are the number one cause of death among young people between the ages of 15 and 20, with the summer months being particularly deadly.

But why?

For starters, teens are less likely to buckle up behind the wheel. In 2007, half of all teens involved in fatal crashes were not wearing a seat belt.

According to the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety, teens are four times more likely to crash than more experienced drivers.

And Liberty Mutual says that teenage drivers are more likely to use a cell phone behind the wheel, drive with multiple passengers, and drive when drowsy.

Remember, those figures are year-round. During the summer, it gets worse.

Throughout most of the year the hours of 10 pm to midnight on Friday and Saturday are the deadliest for teen drivers—less supervision, higher odds of alcohol being involved, and a higher likelihood of being distracted by other passengers.

During the summer, every night is like the weekend. Without school to worry about, teens are often free to stay out later throughout the week.

Drivers with limited experience are suddenly free to hit the roads, but are frequently unprepared for the increased responsibility.

As a parent, you're not helpless to enforce safe driving behaviors.

The same study by Liberty Mutual found that teens who expected their parents to follow through with punishments for breaking their rules while driving were less likely to engage in risky behavior.

Make sure your teen knows to:

  • Always wear a seat belt;
  • NEVER drive under the influence of drugs and alcohol—let them know you will always be available to pick them up from a party, no questions asked (at least until the next morning);
  • Stop using their cell phone—it can really wait;
  • Never drive with headphones, and turn down the music in general—listening to road noises is vital;
  • Avoid driving with too many passengers;
  • Limit driving late at night when accidents are most common;
  • Obey the speed limit;
  • And maintain their car, or at least ask for help if something needs to be fixed.

Your teen will probably roll their eyes. But with strict consequences in place, deep down they'll know you mean business.