Our roadways are more dangerous than ever during this time of year due to riskier driving behaviors, according to safety officials.
In the last 10 years in the United States, an average of seven people per day have died in motor vehicle crashes during these summer months, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This time period — from Memorial Day to Labor Day — is known as the “100 Deadliest Days”. Specifically, new teen drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash during this time. In fact, within the last 10 years of available data, AAA says nearly 200 people died from car accidents that involved a teen driver during these three months, compared to 320 people that died in the non-summer months.
At the same time, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sounding the warning about speeding and reckless driving in this pandemic era. The latest data shows the number of highway deaths in 2020 was the greatest in more than a decade even though cars and trucks drove fewer miles during the pandemic. And the bad driving is continuing with businesses and schools resuming.
Learn more about these dangerous trends below, and what we can all do to help.
‘100 DEADLIEST DAYS’
There are more deaths in crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months — “100 Deadliest Days” — than the rest of the year, and the reasons include distracted driving, not buckling up, and speeding.
In fact, distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smartphone.
As for buckling up, research shows 60% of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash. And according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019, 47% were not wearing seat belts.
Lastly, speeding is a factor in nearly 30% of fatal crashes involving teen drivers.
So what can you do to help?
- Talk to your teen about the rules and responsibilities involved in driving. Share some stories and statistics related to teen drivers and distracted driving. Remind your teen often that driving is a skill that requires the driver’s full attention. Texts and phone calls can wait until arriving at his or her destination.
- Set consequences for distracted driving. If your teen breaks a distraction rule you’ve set, consider suspending your teen’s driving privileges, further limiting the hours during which they can drive, or limiting the places where they can drive. Parents could also consider limiting a teen’s access to their cell phone—a punishment that in today’s world could be seen by teens as a serious consequence.
- Set the example by keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the wheel while driving. Be consistent between the message you tell your teen and your own driving behaviors. Novice teen drivers most often learn from watching their parents.
- AAA provides a free four-page guide — “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for Parents” — to help parents coach their teens on driving safely. Experts urge parents to talk with new teen drivers about how to avoid dangerous driving situations, like speeding, impaired driving, or distracted driving.
DANGEROUS PANDEMIC DRIVING
Roads in the United States are noticeably more dangerous in the COVID era than they were before, according to a recent report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and safety officials are worried about the final stretch of summer travel as roads get busy.
More people are speeding, in part because police stopped enforcing as many traffic stops to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. Also, seatbelt use has gone down, and more people have died in crashes with alcohol or other drugs in their system, according to an analysis of trauma centers.
Tickets issued by the California Highway Patrol for speeding in excess of 100mph were nearly double pre-pandemic levels, and the number of tickets for reckless driving citations grew, as well, officials said.
In the end, traffic deaths nationwide in 2020 grew about 7.2% to 38,680 even though there was a 13.2% reduction in the number of miles traveled, according to the NHTSA estimates. It was the deadliest year on highways since 2007.
“These statistics are startling,” said David Cohn, managing partner and attorney at Chain | Cohn | Stiles. “Just as we get accustomed to safe COVID practices, we should be keeping ourselves, our loved ones, and our neighbors safe with safe driving practices.”
IN A MOTOR VEHICLE ACCIDENT?
If you are involved in a car accident, follow these three steps:
1) Obtain the name, address, insurance information, vehicle identification number (VIN) and driver’s license number of any and all persons involved in the accident, as well as the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses.
2) Make sure that a report is filed with the police, sheriff, or highway patrol, but do not talk to anyone else, especially insurance adjusters, about the accident or sign anything without first consulting an attorney.
3) Seek medical attention immediately and explain to your physician or surgeon all of the symptoms and complaints you have been feeling since the accident occurred.
If you or someone you know is injured in an accident at the fault of someone else, or injured on the job no matter whose fault it is, contact the attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, text, or chat with us at chainlaw.com.