Striking a Summertime Safety Balance

June 26, 2014

As we approach the midway point of the summer holidays, it's a good time to reflect on the sobering teen driver crash statistics from recent years so that we remember to continue to take action to keep our youth safe:

  • In 2012 from Memorial Day to Labor Day, over 1,000 people were killed in teen driver-related car crashes; more than 550 were teens.
  • In 2013, 327 people died in teen driver-related car crashes in June, 319 in July, and 286 in August.

As young people leave school and extracurricular commitments behind for the less structured days of summer, they have more time to drive without much purpose, stay out later, and possibly experiment with drinking or drug use—all contributing  factors to teen crashes.

As a father of three teens, I recommend the following ways parents can let their teens safely enjoy the freedoms of summer:

Control the keys. Make sure your teen asks for permission to use the car and then review your house rules for safe driving: always wear seat belts, no peer passengers, get home before curfew, do not drive with someone who has been drinking. Know where your teen is going, with whom, and how he’s getting there.

Amp up the supervised practice drives. Use your teen’s extra time for supervised practice driving, even if she is already driving alone. Aim for 30 minutes per week for dedicated practice in new environments or to boost skills that are still difficult for your teen to master. For my teens, it was left-hand turns, highway merging, and judging stopping distance, all common contributing factors to teen crashes.

Be the scapegoat. Offer to help your teen out of an unsafe situation. Be the reason she says “no” or leaves a dangerous situation. Discuss what these situations might be – a party with drinking, friends planning unsafe activities, such as swimming or boating at night or while intoxicated. 

Click here to see an interesting infographic on the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.