Keeping Teen Drivers Safe During Summer

Car crashes remain a leading cause of death for teen drivers, and the temptation of drugs, alcohol and distracted driving make spring and summer especially dangerous for these young drivers.

The main reasons teens crash is simple – inexperience. They simply haven’t had enough practice navigating the roads to handle tricky situations. Then, you add in drugs, alcohol, cell phones or teen passengers, and the results are often tragic.

Last year, 116 teens (ages 15-19) died from crashes on Ohio’s roads, according to the Ohio Department of Public Safety. Spring and summer are the deadliest times of the year for teen drivers, as the time period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has been coined the “100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers.”

As we approach this time, AAA focuses on ways to reverse this trend and keep teen drivers safe.

Teen Driver Safety Events:

AAA visits dozens of high schools during the spring and fall to hold teen driver safety events. Schools can choose from a list of activities for AAA to present to students, including assemblies, the Ohio Department of Transportation’s distracted driving simulator, vehicle maintenance inspections of teen’s cars by automotive technicians, Start Talking!, a program aimed at reducing drug abuse, and a pledge campaign encouraging students to Slow Down! Speak Up! Stay Alert! If you’re interested in having AAA visit your school, contact Traffic Safety Program Manager, Kellie O’Riordan at 614-431-7882 or KORiordan@aaaohio.com.

Parents:

Parents are vital in teaching teen drivers to stay safe. That’s why AAA developed Keys2Drive, an interactive teen driving website that helps parents and teens navigate the learning-to-drive process. The site features a variety of tools, including a parent-teen driving agreement and the online AAA StartSmart program, which helps parents become effective in-car coaches and manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.

Modernizing Ohio’s Licensing System:

A modern young driver licensing system is proven to save lives. Ohio’s system hasn’t kept up with the latest research on teen driver crashes and how to prevent them. As a result, Ohio’s teen crashes continue to rise.

AAA is leading an effort to modernize Ohio’s young driver licensing system through supporting HB 293, the “Young Driver Protection Bill,” sponsored by Reps. Gary Scherer (R) and Michael Sheehy (D). The bill would make Ohio’s roads safer by giving teen drivers more experience behind the wheel through two small, but important adjustments to Ohio’s current licensing system:

    • Lengthening the Temporary Instruction Permit phase from six to 12 months.
    • Beginning supervised nighttime driving protections for novice teen drivers at 10 p.m., rather than midnight. This is not a curfew, but supervised nighttime driving.

If you support this effort, please let your local Ohio House Representative or local Ohio Senator know.
About two-thirds of those killed or injured in crashes involving teen drivers are people other than the teen drivers. That means teen driver safety is an issue that impacts all of us. It’s going to take all of us working together to make a difference and save lives on Ohio’s roads.

Kimberly Schwind is Senior Manager, Public Affairs for AAA Ohio Auto Club.

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