Some call Memorial Day the unofficial start of summer. AAA calls it the start of the 100 Deadliest Days for teen drivers.
“We've found that from 1994 to 2013, Memorial Day through Labor Day is the deadliest time for teen drivers,” said Chelsea Pompeani, AAA East Central director of public affairs.
A report published by AAA shows that nearly 3,000 passengers were killed in accidents involving teen drivers during the summer of 2013. In West Virginia, 25 teens drivers died in accidents that same summer. That tally is far lower than neighboring states like Pennsylvania and Ohio, but it's still too many fatalities.
“Even one is too many,” said Pompeani. “This is something we really need to crack down on, and we really need to make sure that it starts at home, too, with the parents.”
Pompeani recommends parents spend time with their teens and teach them how to handle road hazards before they should drive solo. It is safer for teens to gain experience with a parent by their side, rather than gaining experience on their own.
“If they have a parent or guardian in the passenger's seat and then open dialogue with them, then they would have the assistance of that experienced driver with them,” said 1st Sgt. Geoffrey Petsko, of the West Virginia State Police.
Though teens can drive more often after the school year ends, it doesn't mean they should. AAA said inexperienced drivers should avoid taking trips without a purpose. Teens should also avoid distracting situations like texting or talking on the phone while driving, or having multiple teenage passengers in a vehicle.
“That's as big a distraction as texting and driving,” said Dino Colombo, injury attorney at Colombo Law. “The statistics will tell you that the more people in the car, the more likely the driver will be distracted, especially a young driver.”
Simple precautions, like wearing a seat belt, are enough to prevent injuries and save lives in accidents.
Click here for more teen driving safety tips from AAA.
904 West Pike Street
Clarksburg, WV 26301
Main (304) 623-3311
Fax (304) 624-6152(Clarksburg)
Fax (304) 225-2522(Morgantown)