RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - A warning to parents: you may want to keep your teens off the road on Friday, June 10th. According to AAA, a travel organization, deadly traffic crashes for teens peak during the summer months.
Summer is the deadliest time of year for teen drivers and passengers with seven of the top 10 deadliest days of the year occurring between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays, according to an analysis of crash data completed by AAA.
On the morning of June 9, Malcolm Fleming graduated from Manchester High School in Chesterfield. Outside the Siegel Center in Richmond, he flashed his diploma. Fleming said it's the first of many accomplishments. "Watch out. I might be the next president."
But first, Fleming needs experience in the driver's seat. He's only had his driver's license for a year.
"I think we've got to be careful because after a day like this you definitely want to stick around and see things after this," said Fleming. "You don't want this to be your last memory right here. You want to be safe."
Safe on the road, especially Friday, when Martha Meade said the odds are against teen drivers.
"Obviously teens are out of school for the summer," said Martha Meade, spokeswoman for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "They've got that 'let your hair down', carefree attitude, which is a great attitude to have, just not the one to have behind the wheel of a car."
According to data collected by AAA: May 20th is the deadliest day for teen drivers. June 10th is the second deadliest. July 4th rounds out the top three.
The complete list of top 10 deadliest days for teen drivers: January 21, May 20, May 26, June 10, July 2, July 4, July 9, July 15, July 23, November 11.
"Once the school bell rings that final time, the chances of a teen being in a fatal crash go up," said Meade.
As Morgan Turner waited for her nephew to walk out of the Siegel Center, she said she hoped he's cautious if he gets in a car tomorrow.
"It's scary. It is very scary because unfortunately some people won't be able to make it through the day tomorrow," said Turner.
Mother, Angela Ayers says her graduate is still dealing with the death of a classmate.
"That's really scary. I mean we've already had a really bad episode at Manchester this year."
Manchester High School senior Avery Spence died last month in a car crash. She was in a car full of teens when it ran off the road.
"You don't know, you may not have tomorrow," said Ayers.
According to AAA, over 7,300 teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 died in traffic crashes between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays during the five-year period of 2005-2009. An average of 422 teens die in traffic crashes during each of the deadly summer months as compared to a monthly average of 363 teen deaths during the non-summer months.
AAA analysis found that traffic deaths involving teenagers were at their highest from May through August.
AAA suggests the following tips for parents to keep teen drivers safe:
Restrict driving and eliminate trips without purpose –Teens have three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, based on amount of miles driven, and a teen's crash risk is highest during the first year of solo driving. Parents should limit teens' driving to essential trips and only with parental permission for at least the first year of driving.
Become an effective driving coach – The best way for new teen drivers to gain experience is through parent-supervised practice driving, where parents can share their wisdom accumulated over many years of driving. Even after a teen has a license that allows solo driving, parents and teens should continue to practice driving together to help the teen manage increasingly more complex and challenging driving conditions. AAA's Teaching Your Teens to Drive coaching program is a great tool to help parents become effective driving coaches for their teens and is available at 800-327-3444.
Limit the number of teen passengers and time as a passenger – Teen crash rates increase with each teen passenger in the vehicle. Fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present versus when teens drive alone. Also, riding in a vehicle with a teen driver can be risky for teen passengers. Crash risk begins to increase at the age of 12, well before a teen can obtain a driver's permit or license – and before many parents start to think about their children being at risk riding as a passenger of a teen driver. Parents should set firm rules against driving with teen passengers and restrict their teens from riding as a passenger with a teen driver.
Restrict night driving – A teen driver's chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles when driving at night. Many parents rightly limit driving during the highest-risk late night hours, yet they should limit evening driving as well, as more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight. AAA recommends that newly-licensed teens not drive after 9 or 10 p.m. unless accompanied by a responsible adult.
Establish a parent-teen driving agreement – Many parents and teens find written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more. AAA offers a parent-teen driving agreement on its teen driver safety website, www.AAA.com/TeenDriving. The comprehensive website offers a variety of additional tools and resources for parents and teens as they progress through the learning-to-drive process, to include AAA StartSmart, a free online resource based on a research-tested program for families developed by the National Institutes of Health.