Summer is here and North County teenagers are leaving their high schools and getting onto the roads, highways, and freeways of San Diego County. Now, more than ever, it is important for teens to understand the responsibility they have behind the wheel. Nearly twice as many car accident deaths occur in the summer months than in the rest of the year combined.
According to the NHTSA and AAA, the 101 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for people under 20. Teen car accidents begin to increase in May and occur most often in July and August.
A study released today by Liberty Mutual and SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) is good reason to talk to your teen driver about the increased risks of summertime driving. The national study of 2,294 high school students revealed 68% of teenagers admitted to narrowly avoiding a crash, and admitted a range of distracted or reckless behaviors including texting while driving (21 percent), speeding (30 percent), talking to passengers (20 percent), changing songs on an MP3 player (17%. )
Distractions are not the only contributing factor to deadly car accidents – drinking and driving was attributed to 11 North County young adult deaths in 2009. That same year, the North Coastal Prevention Coalition (NCPC) surveyed 200 Carlsbad High School Key Club students. The coalition found that more than 70% of students admitted to drinking alcohol, and 94% of students said they have friends that drink alcohol. NCPC recommends parents follow these tips to keep teens safe:
• Never provide alcohol or drugs to your teen or others.
• Communicate with your teens regularly and openly about alcohol and drugs.
• Communicate with other parents about your expectations and theirs.
• Discuss your expectations and rules for prom and graduation, other activities & outings.
• Know who will be driving and what your teen’s plans are.
• Remind your teen not to use alcohol or drugs, or ride in a vehicle with anyone under the influence.
On June 1st, the issued a press release reminding adults and teens to remember: “One bad decision can cause a lifetime of consequences. Please make the safe choice, the sober choice, and the drug free choice.”
My experience as a San Diego personal injury lawyer has made me realize that so many accidents can easily be prevented and lives saved with conversations, education and awareness. If you are the parent of a teenager, talk to your teen about the importance of safe driving today.