AAA Distracted Driving

Next 3 months the mostly deadly for teen drivers

Teen drivers are more likely to die in a crash over the next 12 weeks than any other time of the year.

As the school year ends and summer begins, law enforcement is warning teen drivers about the dangers of not paying attention while they are driving during the next three months.

DISTRACTED DRIVING: Texting, app use increases deaths on Ohio highways

Drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are three times more likely than adult drivers to be involved in a deadly accident, according to AAA. During what is called the “100 deadliest days” between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the risk for fatal teen crash increases 17 percent.

“Teens are driving with less intention in the summer,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA spokeswoman. “They aren’t driving to school or to work as much. They have more free time and may drive more recklessly. There are so many things they can be distracted with in the car, whether that be an entertainment center, ordering something, or their cellphones.”

Teenagers make up about 5 percent of the driving population in Ohio, but were involved in more than 15 percent of Ohio crashes between 2014 and 2016.

Over the last five years, 15- to 17-year-old drivers have been at fault in more than 67,000 crashes in Ohio. Of those 150 were fatal and 1,451 included a serious injury, according to a Dayton Daily News investigation of Ohio State Highway Patrol data.

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

About40 percent of teen drivers have seen a text or email while driving in the last 30 days, and 52 percent have sent a text or email, according to AAA. Roughly six in 10 crashes involving young drivers result from distraction.

Distraction can also include other passengers, changing radio stations or anything that takes a driver’s attention away from the act of driving.

“In the summer, we see more situations where there are several teens in one car,” Fife said. “Your risk for accident goes up the more passengers are in the car. I would recommend that parents enforce no one in the car for at least six months.”

RELATED: OSU student killed in distracted crash: ‘In a blink of an eye, it can be over’

Summer may also be more deadly for young drivers on the road because more get their license in the summer, said Sharon Fife, owner of Kettering-based D&D Driving School.

“It’s the busiest time for driver’s education,” Fife said. “Everyone is out in the summer. Some drivers think it’s safer because the weather is nicer, so people take more risks while driving.”

Drivers ages 15 to 17 racked up 12,420 traffic citations in 2018 — 189 for operating a vehicle while under the influence, 7,804 for speeding and 40 for distracted driving.

“We will never get away from the idea of teens being grossly misrepresented (in crashes), but I think we kind of owe it to ourselves and to them to get them the best equipped,” Sgt. Chris Colbert at the Ohio State Highway Patrol Dayton post previously told the Dayton Daily News.

Lawmakers are considering requiring teen drivers to hold their learner’s permits for an entire year, rather than six months, to get their license for an extra six months of experience.

“This is not just a danger to teens. This is not just a teen driver problem. This is everyone’s safety issue,” AAA spokeswoman Cindy Antrican said.

MORE: Are phones, SUVs to blame for rise in pedestrian deaths?

Teens should utilize safe driving habits that can help minimize their risk of fatal accident, according to AAA.

“Teens should also prepare for summer driving by practicing safety during every trip,” Mike Belcuore, AAA driving school manager, said in a release. “Storing your phone out of reach, minding the speed limit, and staying away from impairing substances like alcohol and marijuana will help prevent many crashes from ever occurring.”

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