BOISE – It’s the “100 Deadliest Days,” the time between Memorial Day and Labor Day when many teens get their first experience driving on their own.  But AAA warns that the learning curve can be steep, and at times, deadly – new teen drivers 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash than their adult counterparts.

Idaho currently ranks 23rd in the country for most per-capita crash fatalities involving teen drivers.  The Gem State is in the middle of the pack when compared with neighboring states:

Montana and Wyoming rank 1st and 2nd, respectively, with the most per-capita deaths in the U.S.

“In states with large rural areas, it may be tempting to think that somehow the wide-open spaces will prevent bad things from happening.  But youthful inexperience can have dangerous consequences anytime, anywhere,” says AAA Idaho spokesman Matthew Conde.  “Studies show that teen drivers benefit greatly from quality instruction by a trained professional, and ongoing coaching and support from their parents.”

From 2009 to 2019, more than 7,000 people died in crashes involving a teen driver during the 100 Deadliest Days, including 77 in Idaho.  According to previous AAA research, nearly two-thirds of the people killed in a crash involving a youthful driver are someone other than the teen, including passengers, pedestrians, and drivers of other vehicles.  AAA calls on parents and teens to work together to prevent deadly crashes on American roads.

In the AAA Foundation’s most recent Traffic Safety Culture Index, about 72 percent of teen drivers aged 16-18 admitted engaging in at least one risky behavior in the last 30 days, including speeding (47%), texting while driving (35%), red-light running (32%), aggressive driving (31%), drowsy driving (25%), or driving without a seat belt (17%).

Coaching Your New Driver

Parents play a critical role in reinforcing driver education concepts with their teens.  Here’s a list of some of AAA’s do’s and don’ts for parents to consider throughout the learning process:

During practice drives, take breaks every 25 minutes or so to discuss progress.  Parents should emphasize good driving behavior as well as opportunities for improvement.  They should also set the example by demonstrating good behavior themselves so that coaching is fair and authentic.

AAA reminds parents and teens to READ the road:

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

Additional information can be found in AAA’s free pamphlet, Coaching Your New Driver: An In-Car Guide for Parents.  This guide helps parents break down the coaching process into simple lessons, and includes a driving log to track progress.

“Nationwide, seven people are killed every day in crashes that involve a teen driver.  We have to get that number down,” Conde said.  “Please set clear expectations for safe driving with your teen, and firm consequences for risky behavior.  Learning to drive is an awesome experience, but it takes teamwork to keep it that way.”