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‘Deadliest days’ for teen drivers: What parents should know to keep kids safe on the road

Keeping Kids Safe

BOARDMAN, Ohio (WYTV) – Teen drivers are more likely to die in a crash over the next 12 weeks than any other time of the year.

According to AAA, drivers between 16 and 17 years old are three times more likely than adults to be involved in a deadly accident during what is now known as the “100 deadliest days” between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s when the risk increases by 17%.

As the school year ends and summer begins, law enforcement and health officials are warning teen drivers about the dangers of not paying attention behind the wheel.

“So many of them have only had their license for less than a year and they’re rushing every place to get where they need to go,” said Bill McMahon, injury prevention coordinator at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Then, of course, with the cell phones, distracted driving is a huge issue across the country right now.”

Distracted driving has become a major concern over the last several years for both teens and adults, sparking state lawmakers — including Gov. Mike DeWine — to seek stronger penalties.

Distraction can include anything from playing with the radio, your cell phone or having more than one passenger in the vehicle.

In both Ohio and Pennsylvania, for the first year you have your license, you’re not allowed to have more than one person who is not a family member with you in the car.

“The statistics are when you double the amount of kids in the car, it doubles the chances of having an accident,” McMahon said. “When you have more than three people in the car with you, it quadruples the chances.”

According to AAA, teenagers make up about 5% of the driving population in Ohio but were involved in more than 15% of crashes between 2014 and 2016.

“In the summertime, there’s a lot more freedom. So it’s even restricting hours, making sure they’re not in the car as much because if it can be avoided, it should be,” McMahon said. “Just going out for joyrides and stuff, that’s when we see the increase.”

He said staying vigilant is one of the most important things a parent can do, as well as talking to their child about the dangers of driving.

“The fact that they’re driving an expensive, heavy vehicle that can kill. It’s just, know where your kids are going. That’s a huge part of it. Making sure they’re adhering to the curfews and making sure that where they say they’re going is where they end up.”

Here are some more tips for parents from AAA:

1) Talk with your teen frequently and early on about safe driving practices and refraining from speeding and impaired driving.
2) Teach by example and minimize risky behaviors while driving.
3) Write a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
4) Buckle up! According to AAA, 60% of teens killed in a crash in 2015 were not wearing a seat belt.

For more, including facts you need before your kids start driving and how to help prepare them for the road, visit AAA’s online teen driver safety guide.

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