After school lets out for summer, your teen with a recently earned driver’s license might view the months ahead as time to practice skills behind the wheel. However, parents need to realize that this period – from Memorial through Labor Day – is also the most dangerous time for teen drivers.

Deadliest Days of Summer

teen driver holding keys out the car window Why does AAA refer to these months as the deadliest days of summer? They result in a high percentage of vehicle collisions involving teen drivers and, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, they’re also the most fatal time for 15- to 20-year-olds out on the road.

Several factors influence these statistics. For one, teens with less parental supervision and more free time may go out on their own more often. This notion also overlaps with driving at night – a riskier time to be on the road.

At the same time, even with a license, teens are still inexperienced. Based on data from the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, half of car crashes involving teens can be attributed to errors, such as driving too fast for road conditions and inaccurately assessing the surrounding environment.

Furthermore, teens aren’t fully aware of all driving-related dangers. Statistics show that 55 percent believe they or their peers will drink and drive, 52 percent don’t follow formal driving rules and 64 percent don’t have a written agreement with their parents about safe driving.

Thus, as a parent or guardian making sure your teen stays safe behind the wheel and gets to practice driving over the summer, make sure your teen does the following.

1. Drive Slowly

One way for your teen to be more alert to his or her surroundings is to drive slow enough to look out for other motorists and pedestrians. Studies have shown that, regardless of a driver’s age, speeding remains the top cause of accidents and is behind 31 percent of all fatal crashes.

2. Give Trucks Some Room

Sharing the road with large tractor trailers can be intimidating and comes with time. To stay safe, your beginning driver must first give all commercial trucks some space from behind, in front and to the sides. Additionally, make sure your teen knows to look out for the truck driver’s mirrors. If he or she can’t be seen in them, the car can get stuck in the truck driver’s blind spot.

3. Adjust to the Weather

When it’s raining, driving too fast can result in hydroplaning. To prevent accidents, make sure your teen understands how to react, including reducing speed or pulling over, using headlights giving other motorists extra distance when conditions are not ideal.

4. Avoids Distracted Driving

Cell phone use is against the law in Connecticut, but your teen should also avoid adjusting the radio, having conversations in the car and eating behind the wheel. When it comes to accidents, distracted driving is a major culprit: 15 percent involved talking to other passengers, 12 percent involved a cell phone and 11 percent happened when a driver looked away from the road.

5. Keep the Car Maintained

Right now, your teen is still developing basic driving skills, but eventually, he or she needs to learn about car maintenance. Summer is a good time for an introduction, so during these months off school, show your teen how to:

  • Check tire pressure and add air to the tires.
  • Check and change fluids, like oil, washing fluid, transmission, brake fluid, power steering fluid and coolant.

6. Know to Wear a Seatbelt

This seems fairly obvious – or is it? Believe it or not, one in seven drivers still does not regularly wear a seatbelt and teens have one of the lowest rates of use. Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control found that the majority of teens involved in fatal crashes were often not buckled up. To start, the adults in your teen’s life should be good role models by using seatbelts when behind the wheel.

7. Don’t Depend on Cruise Control

To improve responsiveness, make sure your teen understands cruise control use. As a new driver, he or she should not depend on this feature. Especially at night, it can lead to less alert driving and increased accident risk.

8. Limit the Number of Passengers

Your teen’s friends might be calling for rides or suggesting large carpools, but your teen needs practice driving without distractions. Otherwise, even if your teen is legal to drive friends, the conversations and crowding make an accident more likely.

9. Avoid Driving at Night

Based on 2009 data, 18 percent of teen driving fatalities occur between 9 p.m. and midnight and another 26 percent happen between midnight and 6 a.m. As the parent, set a curfew for your child. Or, if you decide to use a driving agreement instead, make sure it states your teen won’t drive after 9 p.m.

Even when you and your child practice safe driving habits, accidents can and do happen. In these instances, when you’re dealing with high medical bills and an insurance carrier that does not want to pay, get Trantolo & Trantolo involved. For more information, give our car accident lawyers a call today.