SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) — Summer is a fun and joyous time to go outside and enjoy the warmer weather. It’s also a time when teenagers and young adults are off or home from school, which gives them more free time to drive to friends’ houses or other leisure activities.
Unfortunately, this also means that these teens have more opportunities to be behind the wheel and potentially get into accidents. AAA has labeled this time period, from Memorial Day to Labor Day, the “100 Deadliest Days.” Between these two holidays, there is a significant increase in car accidents and teenage casualties related to car accidents.
Nationwide, 6,598 people have died in teen driver–related summertime crashes over a 10-year period from 2012 to 2021. In 2021 alone, 803 people were killed in these crashes. This is a 25 percent increase over pre–pandemic statistics from 2019.
In New York state, 19 were killed in crashes that involved teen drivers during the summer of 2021. From 2012 to 2021, 185 people were killed during the “100 Deadliest Days.” That equates to 19 deaths per year during that 10-year span. This is a big increase from 292 people killed over the course of nine non–summer months.
Valerie Puma, communications specialist at AAA, emphasizes the unfortunate trend of these numbers.
“Compared to 2019-21 when it was still up from the number that we were seeing before the pandemic,” Puma said. “So really, this is something that over the years is getting worse. So it’s something that teen drivers and their parents really need to be paying attention to.”
Parents are the first solution when it comes to trying to fix this dangerous time period. Puma says that the best solution is also one of the easiest.
“Parents of teen drivers really start lessons at home. You want to be a good role model for your younger driver. You want to make sure that you’re showing them that you can’t play on your phone while you’re in the car. You need to limit all distractions, make sure that you’re really paying attention not only to what you are doing, but what other drivers are doing on the road. So it really starts at home.”
With so many festivals and fun activities to get to this summer, experts say, safety and awareness should always take a front seat.