http://mv-voice.com/print/story/print/2013/07/19/summer-months-treacherous-for-teen-drivers


Mountain View Voice

News - July 19, 2013

Summer months treacherous for teen drivers

by Nick Veronin

For parents of teens with freshly minted drivers licenses, the good news is that the Fourth of July has passed. The bad news is, there are still about two weeks left in July, while August and September lie in waiting.

Why might this be worrisome? Well, according to a press release detailing a recently released study conducted by Driving-Tests.org, 27 percent of all motor-vehicle related deaths happen during July, August and September, with July being the most dangerous month — especially for teen drivers.

The good news is the worst — at least statistically speaking — is behind us. The Driving-Tests.org study mentioned a separate paper, published by AAA, which declared July 4 the deadliest day of the year to drive.

Comparing data on traffic fatalities between 2005 and 2011 collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Driving-Tests.org determined that the summer months were the most dangerous time to be on the road.

The study found that driving while intoxicated is not the cause of as many of the accidents as some might assume. Rather, 75 percent of serious accidents are caused by what are called "critical errors" — such as driving too fast, failing to pay attention to the road and distracted driving.

"Talking on a cell phone can double the likelihood of an accident, and a texting driver is 23 times more likely to be involved in an accident than a non-texting driver," the press release reported. The dangers of texting and driving are particularly salient, considering that teens often prefer texting to talking on the phone.

According to a poll conducted by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project, "cell-phone texting has become the preferred channel of basic communication between teens and their friends." And, according to the same poll, 34 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds questioned said they had texted while driving.

Half of that same group said they had talked on the cell phone while driving.

The press release also provided tips for parents and teens on avoiding preventable accidents.

For parents, limiting the hours a teen is allowed to drive is recommended. "More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.," the release said.

Additionally, parents should be aware of whether their sons and daughters are driving with passengers. In California, it is illegal for young drivers to drive in a car with other teens and young adults without an older adult being present. That's because, "for teenagers, the relative risk of a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers increases." The release recommends making sure teens don't drive with too many passengers in the car.

As for advice aimed directly at teens, the release encourages new drivers not to be afraid to speak up when a friend is talking or texting behind the wheel, or otherwise driving recklessly.

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