Control Your Teen's Driving... Save a Life!

The end of the school year marks the start of the deadliest time of the year for teen drivers -- a time when inexperience behind the wheel turns into loss, injury and death for many youths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The Summer Safety Challenge (part of Drive for Life’s public education project with Volvo Cars of North America, AAA, the National Association of Police Organizations, the National Sheriffs’ Association and with technical support from NHTSA) urges parents to make more time to supervise their teens’ driving, extend the driving privilege gradually, limit passengers and night driving, eliminate distractions and impose strict consequences for safety infractions.

“Many parents take great care to make sure their children drive the safest car possible,” said Anne Belec, CEO of Volvo Cars of North America. “This challenge urges parents to spend as much care regulating their children’s driving behavior as they do the cars they drive.”

A Drive for Life review of five years of teen-fatality traffic data from the NHTSA confirms the summer months are the most deadly months of the year for teenagers. Teen deaths increase in May, with 2,568 teen traffic fatalities between 1999 and 2003, and continue to climb throughout the summer, with 2,579 in June. The teen death toll is highest in July and August (2,786 in July and 2,794 in August) during that five-year period. By contrast, 2,029 teenagers died in January and 1,789 teenagers died over the same five-year period in February.

“Each month in summer, we lose the equivalent of an entire high school class on America’s roads. Young, inexperienced drivers spend more time behind the wheel in summer, often with tragic results,” said Dr. Jeffrey W. Runge, Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Parents must understand the added risk and set limits that can save their young drivers’ lives.”

Teen traffic deaths peak in the summer, when teens log more hours behind the wheel than at any other time of the year. Teen drivers average 44 percent more hours behind the wheel each week during the summer than during the school year, and they are more likely to drive at night – some for the first time – and with multiple passengers.

Traffic crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for 15-20 years olds. Not only do teen drivers have higher death rates than older drivers, even teen passengers’ death rates exceed those of older passengers.

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