“100 Deadliest Days” is an annual reminder for teens to practice safe driving habits

BOISE – (May 27, 2020) – As COVID-19 restrictions are lifted in Idaho and across the country, a growing number of drivers are eager to hit the road and make up for lost time.  But risky driving behavior makes the summer months especially dangerous for inexperienced teen drivers and the other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians they will encounter on the roads.

It’s the “100 Deadliest Days,” the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day when summer fun, work opportunities, and the end of the school year entice more teen drivers to get behind the wheel.  But youthful inexperience has consequences – new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than their adult counterparts.

Nationwide, more than 8,300 people have died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018 during the 100 Deadliest Days, including 78 in Idaho.  According to data gathered by the Idaho Transportation Department, 92 of the 224 people killed in vehicle crashes last year lost their lives between Memorial Day and Labor Day.  And this year, ITD reports that there have been 24 crash fatalities in the Gem State from March 25 through May 22.

“This summer presents some unique challenges.  One unintended consequence of the stay-home orders is that people’s driving skills may be a little rusty, which is an even bigger concern when it comes to teens who have less driving experience to begin with,” says AAA Idaho Public Affairs Director Matthew Conde.  “With everyone getting back on the roads together at the same time, it will take a collective effort to avoid a major spike in crash fatalities and serious injuries.”

According to the new AAA Foundation Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72 percent of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted engaging in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:

  • Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (47%)
  • Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (40%)
  • Texting while driving (35%)
  • Red-light running (32%)
  • Aggressive driving (31%)
  • Drowsy driving (25%)
  • Driving without a seatbelt (17%)

“Young drivers have no greater teacher or advocate than their parents,” Conde said.  “Parents should talk about dangerous behaviors like distracted driving, impaired driving, speeding, and drowsy driving in a way that sets clear ground rules and expectations.  And above all, they should model good behavior themselves so that their safety concerns are seen as fair and authentic.”

AAA reminds parents and teens to READ the road:

  • Right speed, for right now
  • Eyes up, brain on
  • Anticipate drivers’/bicyclist’s/pedestrian’s next move
  • Donut of space around your vehicle

“Teens need at least 50 hours of supervised practice behind the wheel, including some time driving in the dark and during bad weather.  But don’t become a disengaged passenger – continue to provide coaching and feedback,” Conde suggested.  “Parents should also establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.”

To help parents conduct meaningful practice sessions with their teens during COVID-19 and beyond, AAA recently produced a free four-page guide called Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for ParentsThe guide offers short lesson plans and a variety of “Dos and Don’ts” to make the learning process as effective as possible.

Parents can also complete the online AAA StartSmart Parent Session to learn how to be better coaches, and to receive advice on how to manage their teen’s driving privileges.

For the best learning experience, teens should also participate in a driver education course, such as AAA’s How to Drive, available in a typical classroom setting and online.  For more resources to stay safe this summer, parents and teens can visit TeenDriving.AAA.com.

“Even with the challenges of COVID-19, the summer months should be a joyful time with friends and family,” Conde said.  “We don’t want anyone’s safety put at risk by dangerous driving behavior.”