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AAA warns about the 100 deadliest days of summer for teen drivers

During the 100 Deadliest Days an average of 18 teen drivers are involved in deadly crashes in Tennessee.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Memorial Day marked the start of the 100 Deadliest Days on roadways. Data shows that during that time, the number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers goes up until Labor Day. This year, Tennessee Highway Patrol data shows nearly 500 people have died in crashes statewide.

Distractions and inexperienced drivers make summer deadly for teen drivers. At Drive 4 Life Academy, Greg Mangan teaches drivers proactive ways to drive safely.

"It's summer and they might be more inclined to drive places they haven't been before, and you've got people from out of state and so they add to the danger for anyone who is driving there and for the new drivers, experiencing things that maybe they've never experienced before," Mangan said.

During the 100 Deadliest Days, an average of 18 Tennessee teen drivers are involved in deadly crashes. According to AAA, a little over 2,000 teen drivers are involved in fatal crashes nationwide.

"When they realize that they're driving a 4,000-pound killing machine, they start really thinking," Mangan said.

AAA research shows between Memorial Day and Labor Day deadly teen crashes rise 15% and the data also showed that 30% of all deadly crashes happen during this period.

"That's the 100 Deadly Days," Mangan said. "The Deadly Four D's. That's 'drunk, drugged, drowsy and distracted driving.'”

Understanding and eliminating those hazards is only half of the way teen drivers can stay safe on the road.

"If you understand that the people around you may be a part of that group that is drunk or drugged or drowsy, or distracted, then that will make you much more aware and ready to avoid them," Mangan said.

The biggest lesson to learn is responsibility. Mangan said their lessons tend to focus on the importance of driving safely, emphasizing the possibility of getting hurt if people drive irresponsibly.

If your teen has some bad driving habits, AAA said parents should explain to them the dangers they're putting themselves in. Common bad habits and how to address them are listed below.

  • Driving with passengers: Teen drivers’ crash risks multiply when they have teen passengers. Set limits and enforce them.
  • Driving at night: Night driving is more dangerous due to limited visibility, fatigue, and impaired drivers on the road. This is especially a risky time for teens. Limit the time your novice driver spends behind the wheel at night.
  • Not wearing a safety belt: Wearing a safety belt greatly reduces the risk of being hurt or killed in a crash. Make a rule that everyone buckles up for every trip.
  • Speeding: Speed is a leading factor in crashes for teens and adults. Teens need to follow the posted speed limit, and parents should set a good example and strong rules.
  • Distracted driving: Teen passengers are the biggest distraction to teen drivers, but cell phones come in second. Many teens admit to interacting with their phone and in-car infotainment systems while behind the wheel, despite clear dangers. Make a family rule covering these and other distractions by which everyone abides.
  • Drowsy driving: Teens have a hard time getting enough sleep and often struggle with drowsiness. Drowsy driving is as dangerous as drunk driving, and teens have the highest risk. Ensure everyone who is behind the wheel has gotten enough sleep.
  • Impaired driving: Driving impaired from alcohol and other drugs puts everyone at risk. Enforce strict zero-tolerance rules with your teen and be a good role model.

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