Safe summer driving; 100 deadliest days for teens

An average of ten people will die each day from crashes involving teen drivers this summer. According to the AAA Foundation of Traffic Safety, that is 16 percent more compared to the rest of the year. It’s why the organization is calling now until Labor Day, "the 100 deadliest days." 

Many first-time drivers are hitting the road this summer, including Lucas Reed, who plans on getting his license soon. Yet, for now Reed is getting lots of practice with the help of his instructor, Fred Myers of Fred Myers Driving School. Until now, Reed lost interest in wanting to drive. 

"I’m in college I need to be able to drive place for my friends or for school," Reed said.  He’s eager to get behind the wheel though he realizes how deadly the open road can be. 

According to the Kentucky Office of Highway Safety, 22 teens ages 16 to 19 died in crashes so far this year. That’s compared to the 38 deaths reported in 2015. 

The AAA’s study says common distractions are part of the cause. In fact, six out of ten teen crashes involve a distracted driver. The top seven distractions include: interacting with one or more passengers (15%), cell phones (12%), looking at something in the vehicle (10%), looking at something outside the vehicle (9%), singing/dancing to music (8%), grooming (6%) and reaching for an object (6%). 

There are many ways you can monitor your child’s driving habits. With apps like Drive Safe Mode you will be alerted whenever their phone is in use while driving with email notifications. Other options include crash alerts, which will call local emergency services with the incidents location. 

However, your options do not stop there. Many cars now include a variety of safe features like, "Adaptive Cruise Control." It is an optional cruise control system that automatically adjusts the vehicle speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead.

The 2016 Chevy Malibu features a similar system, "Teen Driver."  It records distance traveled, maximum speed, when the car had to engage stability control and anti-lock brakes, as well as the number of alerts issued by other safety features. 

In a time where some believe teen drivers have more confidence than experience; does the new technology take away from a driver’s common sense?

"We hate to watch the kids so much they need some responsibility," Myers explained. "But the apps may not be a bad idea." 
 
It is something Reed is not opposed to either.   "It could help," Reed said. "I’d be fine with it as an extra precaution."

Aside from the technology, there are also some safety tips to keep in mind.  Dr. Bill Horrey, Ph.D of the Liberty Mutual Research Institute for Safety provided these:

·        LAR (Look at Road), not LOL. Remind your teen of the dangers around texting and driving as well as seemingly innocent actions such as glancing down at your phone to look for directions. 
·        Safe Selfies. There will be dozens of pictures taken during the summer months, but remind your teen to not take photos or videos, or share them on social media, until they get to their destination.
·        Party Animal Fatigue. If you are giving your teen an extended curfew this summer, discuss the importance of not driving fatigued. In fact, over half of teen drivers report having fallen asleep or nearly fallen asleep at the wheel.
·        Get it in Ink.  Liberty Mutual and SADD also encourage parents and teens to sign a Parent-Teen Driving Contract (link). The contract is both a conversation starter about safety issues and a customized agreement that lets you create and uphold family driving rules.

Below are a list of apps and products available to help your teen drive safe: 

For car safety devices and apps, click here and here.

For cell phone safety links, click here and here.

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