As COVID-19 restrictions continue to be lifted, more people are desperate to travel and enjoy vacations away from home. However, this increase in driving is concurrent with the 100 deadliest days when teenage driving accidents are at their peak.
To better understand the 100 deadliest days and how to prevent these tragedies, it’s important to consider.
What Are the 100 Deadliest Days?
The 100 deadliest days is the span of time between Memorial Day and Labor Day. During this stretch, the frequency of car accidents involving teenage drivers skyrockets.
Between 2010 and 2019, across the nation 7,000 people died in teen-related car crashes. Compared to the rest of the year, 32 percent of all fatal crashes involving teen drivers happen during the 100 deadliest days.
Though part of the reason for these accidents is increased travel, teenagers are also more likely to be inexperienced and engage in risky behaviors on the road. For example, one-third of teenagers involved in accidents resulting in deaths and serious injuries did not wear their seatbelts.
These risky behaviors are amplified during the summer months when teenagers are more likely to drive with friends to enjoy short vacations or trips. When driving with other teenagers, they are 2.5 times more likely to engage in risky behavior compared to when driving alone. This risk level increases with the number of passengers in the car.
Concerns about the 100 deadliest days are compounded by the pandemic forcing everyone to stay in their homes for prolonged periods. As restrictions are lifted, people are desperate to make up for the last year of their lives with traveling and vacations. Travel increased 60 percent compared to 2020, with 93 percent of travelers going by car.
How to Prepare for the 100 Deadliest Days
There are several measures both teenagers, and their parents can take to reduce the risk of an accident during the 100 deadliest days. There are four steps to ensuring your child is prepared to drive in these conditions safely.
Teaching Teenagers to be Safe Drivers
This step is broken down into two subsections: talking and doing. First, parents need to talk to their teens about the rules and responsibilities on the road. This includes reviewing the law and discussing possible risks. For example, teenagers are more likely to drive while distracted. Instating a rule that says no phone use while driving could curb this dangerous behavior before it begins.
The second step to prepare your teen to be a safe driver is to practice driving with them. Ride alongside your teen on different road types and in different conditions. Driving on a country road is very different from a freeway, and driving during a storm or at night is more dangerous and requires more attention.
Do not coach them or talk about their performance. Instead, treat it as a bonding activity rather than a lesson. By being there for them and forming a comfortable environment when driving, your teen will become a better and safer driver when they are on their own.
Forming and Enforcing Guidelines
First, there are the guidelines set by the state. Each state has different laws regarding graduated drivers’ licenses and distracted driving. Reviewing these laws with your teen will help them better understand the rules of the road and the consequences of breaking them.
In addition to the law, you can also set your own rules. For example, restricting the number of passengers your child is allowed to have can decrease the chance of them being distracted. Restricting driving times, such as being home by a certain time, can also be beneficial in building healthy driving habits.
There is no point in enforcing rules if there are no consequences for their actions. If your teen breaks the law, they would be punished by the law for their misbehavior. Teaching your child that actions have consequences is one way to prevent your teen from engaging in risky behavior.
However, the punishment needs to fit the severity of the crime. For example, if a teen breaks curfew, you may choose to restrict their driving hours further. Other consequences include limiting where they can drive, with whom they can drive, or even suspending driving privileges for a period of time.
Set an Example
This is the most important step, as teens will be more likely to partake in safe driving behaviors if they see those same behaviors in their parents. By obeying all traffic laws, your teen will notice your habits and likely imitate them.
“We need to properly teach teenagers how to drive safely, and that starts with driving safely ourselves,” said Attorney T. Vaden Warren, Jr. of the Warren Firm, PLLC., “By following speed limits, obeying road signs, and practicing defensive driving, our actions can speak a lot louder than our words when it comes to teaching our children how to drive safely.”
The most important thing about setting an example is consistency. If the parent breaks the rules on occasion or does not consistently drive safely, a teen will be more likely to see that behavior as normal. By staying consistent, your teen will become a safer driver.