More than 7,300 people died nationwide in crashes involving teen drivers from 2012 to 2021 during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s nearly half of the number of those killed in teen-driver crashes for the entire remaining months out of the year. In 2021 alone, 900 people were killed in teen-driver crashes, up from 851 the previous year ― a nearly 6% increase. The number killed in 2021 also represents a greater than 25% increase over pre-pandemic 2019. Often, the victims are passengers, pedestrians or occupants of other vehicles, making the roadways more dangerous for all.
In Kansas, 105 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers ages 15 to 18 during the 100 Deadliest Days from 2012 to 2021, representing 34% of all vehicle crash fatalities during that 10-year period. According to Kansas Department of Transportation crash data, there were 11,507 vehicle crashes in all of 2021 (the latest data available) involving teen drivers ages 15 to 19, 40 of the crashes including fatalities and 2,878 crashes resulting in injuries.
“There are more daily deaths from crashes involving teen drivers during the summer months than the rest of the year because teens tend to have more unstructured time behind the wheel, as they commute to summer jobs, enjoy summertime activities and spend time with friends,” said Shawn Steward, public affairs manager, AAA Kansas. “Unfortunately, as more teens take to the road over the summer, the results can be deadly. AAA recommends that parents take time now to both model safe driving behaviors and help ensure their teens practice them as well.”
AAA encourages teen drivers to double down on staying focused when driving, buckling up for every ride and driving within posted speed limits. Parents should also talk to their teens specifically about the dangers of impaired driving.
Helping teen drivers keep roadways safe
According to the AAA Foundation 2021 Traffic Safety Culture Index
, teen drivers ages 16-18 admitted to having engaged in at least one of the following risky behaviors in the past 30 days:
Driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street (39%)
Driving 15 mph over the speed limit on a freeway (34%)
Red-light running (27%)
Aggressive driving (25%)
Drowsy driving (16%)
Driving without a seatbelt (12%)
Drinking enough alcohol to be over the adult legal limit (4%)
Riding in a car driven by someone who has had too much alcohol (8%)
Driving within an hour of having used marijuana (6%)
In addition to modeling safe driving behaviors and talking to their teens about factors that can contribute to the risk of a crash, parents should also consider having their teens complete a comprehensive driver education course to learn the rules of the road.
“While they sometimes may not think so, parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel,” said AAA Kansas’ Steward “It’s never too soon for parents to talk to their kids about the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and alcohol and marijuana impairment. But they also need to model good driving behavior themselves.”
To keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:
Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving.
Teach by example and eliminate their own risky behavior when driving.
Conduct at least 60 hours of supervised practice driving with their teen, including 10 hours of night driving.
To support parents in conducting practice driving sessions, AAA provides a free four-page guide to help parents coach their teens on how to drive safely, “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for Parents
.” The guide offers a driving log as well as behind-the-wheel lesson plans.
The AAA Teen Driver Website
has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart Parent Session
also offers excellent resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.
Reminders for all drivers
This time of year is the deadliest not just for teens, but for everyone on the roadways, including pedestrians, motorcyclists and bicyclists. As summer arrives, AAA is reminding all road users, regardless of age, to be especially diligent about their safety as well as the safety of others.
“We know that fatal crashes involving teen drivers nearly double in summer months as compared to the rest of the year,” said AAA Kansas’ Steward “But AAA reminds that the 100 Deadliest Days of the year bring an increased risk for all road users.”
With that in mind, AAA is encouraging everyone to consider what they themselves can do to reduce the risk of traffic fatalities over the summer.
“Teen drivers spend more time behind the wheel in summer months and they certainly have less experience than those who have been driving for years,” AAA’s Steward added. “But tragedy can impact drivers of any age when good driving behaviors fall by the wayside.”
About AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety
Established in 1947 by AAA, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded, 501(c)(3) charitable research and educational organization. The AAA Foundation’s mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by researching their causes and by educating the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur. This research is used to develop educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users. Visit AAAFoundation.org.