Washington State Averages Eleven Fatalities A Year In Crashes Involving A Teen Driver
BELLEVUE, Wash. — In the past five years, nearly 3,500 people have died in crashes involving a teen driver during the 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. This summer timeframe is when the number of crash fatalities involving a teen driver historically rises. New crash data from 2013-2017 reveals major factors contributing to fatal teen crashes during the summer driving period include:
- Speeding (28 percent)
- Drinking and driving (17 percent)
- Distraction (9 percent)
AAA Foundation research found that nearly two-thirds of people injured or killed in a crash involving a teen driver are people other than the teen behind the wheel. Crashes for teen drivers increase significantly during the summer because teens are out of school and driving more. In the past five years, during the “100 Deadliest Days”:
- An average of nearly 700 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers. On average, eleven of those fatalities happen on Washington State roadways.
- The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 15-18 was 17 percent higher per day compared to other days of the year.
Illegal behavior like drinking and driving, and reckless behavior like speeding and distraction are contributing to the alarming number of crash deaths involving teen drivers each summer.
Drinking and Driving
Despite the fact that teens cannot legally consume alcohol, one in six teen drivers involved in fatal crashes during the summer tested positive for alcohol.
Speeding significantly increases the severity of a crash and is a growing problem among teen drivers. In the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index, half (49.7 percent) of teen drivers reported speeding on a residential street in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent say they sped on the freeway.
Distraction- Underreported Problem
More than half of teen drivers (52 percent) in the AAA Foundation’s latest Traffic Safety Culture Index report reading a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent report sending a text or email. It is difficult for law enforcement to detect distraction following a crash, which has made distracted driving one of the most underreported traffic safety issues.
Additional AAA Foundation research using in-vehicle dash-cam videos of teen driver crashes found distraction was involved in 58 percent of teen crashes, approximately four times as many as federal estimates.
“Parents can play a vital role in influencing the decisions their teens make behind the wheel,” said Kelly Just, AAA Washington Traffic Safety Manager. “Modeling good distraction-free driving, creating a parent-teen driving agreement and having tough conversations about the consequences of impaired driving or riding with an impaired driver, are just a few things parents can do to keep their teen safe.”
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; avoid risky behavior when driving, Take the Pledge to drive distraction-free
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers. (Free)
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great 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. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills.