Summer Driving: the “100 deadliest days”, and what you can do about it.
With summertime upon us, who isn’t looking forward to their outdoor barbeques, trips to the ocean or mountains, family vacations, and a little more rest and relaxation? Unfortunately, there is a little known secret revealing the darker side of summer—that accident rates and vehicle fatalities soar, leading some law enforcement officers to call it the “100 deadliest days”
In fact, the summer months are on average the most dangerous months for driving, with August being the deadliest overall. Why? Mainly because of the rapid influx of teen drivers on the road, with the inexperience and risky behaviors common among that population. With teens out of school, they spend far more time driving to and from work and other social engagements. Considering that teens are proportionally the most at-risk population of drivers, it’s no wonder that accident rates increase. But there’s another element of summer that endangers teen drivers. According to a recently released U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration report, “more than 11,000 teens on average use alcohol for the first time, 5,000 start smoking cigarettes, and 4,500 try marijuana” on each day of summer. Dr. Westley Clark, director of the administration’s Center for Substance Abuse, reviewed a report of over 230,000 teen interviews, and attributes the increase in dangerous behavior to the fact that “adolescents are on a break from school and have more idle time; they have fewer structured responsibilities, and less adult supervision.”
But there is one final danger also associated with teens and summertime—distracted driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been researching distracted driving for nearly a decade, and in a 2009 report concludes, “The age group with the greatest proportion of distracted drivers is the under-20 age group” with “16% of all under-20 drivers in fatal crashes” being due to distracted driving. Moreover, the primary culprit of distracted driving is text messaging, particularly with touch screen phones. In addition, the UK Telegraph reports that men get in more summer accidents from being distracted by women wearing less clothing.
Parents and concerned citizens alike can do several things to counteract these dangers. First, parents should be diligent about helping their children understand the fatal danger of risky behaviors while driving. This includes driving under the influence, driving while distracted, whether it’s from texting or talking to friends, and speeding. In addition, parents should particularly hold their children as accountable as possible to not text and drive. Considering the substantial danger associated with this behavior, it’s something to be taken very seriously. Lastly, while this may seem odd in today’s culture, evidence indicates that if men and women dress more modestly during the summer, it will decrease accidents due to being distracted by the opposite sex.
We in particular at Local Driving School take these issues very seriously. As professionals in the community most familiar with the dangers associated with risky driving, we make it a priority to help educate and prepare our students for the increased risks of summertime driving. We train each student with proven defensive driving techniques such visual search, hazard detection, risk perception, speed control, space management, and driver attitude, and we encourage them to remain vigilant about driving responsibly. Our instructors are well versed in explaining the dangers of risky behavior such as driving under the influence, distracted driving, and speeding, and they connect with students in a thoughtful and engaging manner.
If you are a parent or a concerned citizen, we ask that you ensure your child gets the best training possible, and we recommend our services to you. We also hope that you will join us in being a conscientious voice helping to raise awareness about these vital issues in our community.
The Local Driving School Team
[i] Cohen & Jaffe, LLP. http://www.cohenjaffe.com/Article/Serious-Car-Accidents-More-Likely-During-Holidays-and-Summer-Months.shtml
[ii] US News, July 2012, http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/07/03/summer-is-peak-time-for-teens-to-try-drugs-alcohol-report
[iii] National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, Traffic Safety Facts, “An Examination of Driver Distraction as Recorded in NHTSA Databases, Sep. 2009.
[iv] The Telegraph, 2010, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/news/7917861/Male-road-accidents-soar-in-summer-due-to-womens-short-skirts.html