What do the “100 Deadliest Days” mean for your Idaho teen?

If you’re the parent of a teen, this is a big weekend for you. Yes, Memorial Day weekend kicks of the first glorious days of summer, but it’s also the beginning of a period that can be very dangerous for teens. This weekend marks the start of the “100 Deadliest Days,” named for the months between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when teens are involved in a vast number of fatal crashes. Over the past five years, during just the 100 Deadliest Days, more than 5,000 people died nationwide in crashes involving teen drivers.1 Idaho State Police Captain Brad Doty says there’s a pretty simple explanation: “Kids are out of school so they’re on the road for more hours of the day.” And, they’re driving in the evenings more often, a time when they’re most likely to experience a fatal accident.2 Most accidents involving teen drivers are the result of distracted driving. Because teen brains are still developing, they’re not able to process as many distractions as experienced drivers. Doty calls on parents to enforce safe driving rules with their teens. “You’ve got to let them know that the phone, or a text, is not worth dying over—or worse, killing someone else.” Also, he says, “Emphasize to your child that they are responsible for everyone in and around the vehicle. So, for instance, that means they don’t drive until their friends are buckled up.” Doty’s rules for teen drivers may seem obvious, but the statistics warrant continued discussion around the following:
  1. Buckle up. It’s one of the easiest things you can do and the best defense if you’re in a crash.
  2. Do not use the phone while driving. If you absolutely need to talk or text, pull over to a safe area. (Parents, avoid calling your child when you know they’re driving!)
  3. Limit the number of friends in the car. Loud talking, loud music, and horseplay can make it difficult to focus on the task at hand.
  4. Drive sober, and never get into a car with someone who has been drinking or using drugs. Among 15- to 20-year-old male drivers who were involved in fatal crashes in 2014, 24% had been drinking.3 You may think your teen knows better, but 20% admit to getting into a car with someone who had been drinking, and 8% said they’d driven after drinking.4
  5. Set the conditions of the vehicle to the driver. Adjust mirrors and seats, and set the music volume to comfortable level.
  6. Use the three-second rule. Put adequate distance between you and the vehicle in front of you—because you never know what the driver in front of you is doing or about to do.
“Driving is such an important job,” says Doty. “Compare it to a teen working in a factory with a lot of dangerous machinery. It would take them a while to learn how to do the job, and the less distractions, the safer they’ll be. A car is no different.” Captain Doty warns that Idaho law enforcement agencies ramp up their efforts to spot distracted and drunk drivers during the summer months. And anyone can report a distracted driver by dialing *ISP (*477) or just dial 9-1-1. (Obviously, have your passenger place the call or pull over to safety if you will be the one to dial!) 1. newsroom.aaa.com/2016/06/aaa-reveals-top-driving-distractions-teens-100-deadliest-days-begin 2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Fatality facts: teenagers 2014. Arlington (VA): The Institute; 2014. www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagers 3. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Dept. of Transportation (US). Traffic safety facts 2014: Young Drivers. Washington (DC): NHTSA; May 2016. www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/812278.pdf 4. 10 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System 2013 YRBS Data User’s Guide. (2016). National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention, Division of Adolescent and School Health (producer).