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Deadly days of summer

The summer driving season is underway, and if this summer is like the past five, there will be a significant spike in the number of people been killed in crashes involving teen drivers.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, in the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day:

  • An average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers.
  • The average number of traffic fatalities in wrecks involving teen drivers increased by 16 percent per day, compared to other days of the year.

In an eight-year study the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety conducted in conjunction with University of Iowa, researchers analyzed more than 2,200 in-car camera videos, comparing what teen drivers were doing in the moments leading up to a trash and found the following “trends” in teen distractions:

  • In 15 percent of crashes, teen drivers were either talking or attending to passengers.
  • In 12 percent of accidents, drivers were talking, texting or operating a cellphone.
  • In 11 percent of crashes, teens were either attending to or looking at something else inside the vehicle.

Over the course of the study, how teens used their phones when driving changed. Initially, they were more likely to be talking on the phone, but more recently, they were more likely to be texting or looking down at their phones.

Supporting those findings, results of a recent AAA Foundation survey found nearly half of teen drivers admitted to reading a text message or email while behind the wheel during the previous month.

“Every day during the summer driving season, an average of 10 people die as a result of injuries from a crash involving a teen driver,” AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety spokesperson Jurek Grabowski said.

Parents can find tips for keeping their teen drivers safe at teendriving.aaa.com.

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