Don’t let teen drivers become a summer danger statistic

By: Eric Czarnik | C&G Newspapers | Published June 15, 2015

 The foundation of a good driving habit is a good driver’s training program.

The foundation of a good driving habit is a good driver’s training program.

Few things suggest summer like vacations, camping, cookouts and the beach. But AAA Michigan is reminding drivers that summer can also bring increased danger on the roads.

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, the season between Memorial Day and Labor Day makes up what AAA calls the “100 Deadliest Days.” Teen deaths related to auto accidents tend to rise during this period partly because teens have more time and chances to drive, according to the foundation.

AAA says “an average of 220 teen drivers and passengers” were killed in auto accidents during each summer month in 2013, which is 43 percent higher than the comparable figures for the remainder of 2013.

Although the total tally of teenage auto accidents has declined, teen crash rates still surpass those of other age demographics, the foundation said.

Furthermore, when a teen driver is involved in a crash, nearly two-thirds of resulting fatalities and injuries happen to someone besides the teen driver, the auto foundation said.

AAA Michigan public affairs director Susan Hiltz said the AAA Foundation’s research is a call to action for parents or those who have teens at home.

“The foundation of a good driving habit is, first of all, a good driver’s training program, but we also have to look at the example that we set as adult drivers,” she said. “The teenage brain is still in the development stage. … The importance of safety is something that we have to keep drilling them about.”

Hiltz said today’s young drivers face experiences that their parents didn’t grow up facing, such as cell phones and technology.

“The young drivers that are driving today have multiple distractions to deal with in addition to being young, inexperienced drivers,” she said.
Hiltz recommended supervising a new driver for as many hours as possible. AAA encourages parents to visit a website, www.teendriving.aaa.com/MI/, for further guidance tips.

“You cannot discount the importance of getting those hours behind the wheel with a new driver,” she said.

Shellie Simmons, co-owner of Alpine Driving School in Southfield, said parents must teach teen drivers that teen passengers may pose a driving distraction.

“They need to make (teens) aware of the danger of driving during the holidays, with people drinking and driving, and make them aware of paying closer attention to everything around them,” Simmons added.

Learn more about AAA Michigan by visiting www.michigan.aaa.com. Find out more about Alpine Driving School in Southfield by visiting www.alpinedrivingschoolinc.com or by calling (248) 663-2297.