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Here's why summer vacation could be the deadliest time for teen drivers

CDC data shows teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have a deadly crash rate that's almost three times as high as adults.

ATLANTA — Memorial Day marked the unofficial start of summer vacation. Most students are getting out of school, kicking back, and enjoying their summer. But that all can change instantly once a teen gets behind the wheel.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 have a deadly crash rate that's nearly three times as high as adult drivers per mile driven.

In 2020, according to CDC data, car accidents were also the leading cause of death for teens this age.

“Summer is historically a dangerous time for teen drivers,” said Montrae Waiters, a AAA spokesperson. 

Waiters added that more inexperienced teens would be out on the road with their friends during odd night hours since school is out.

Hailey Moore, 18, said she's personally seen some reckless behavior from some of her peers. 

"It's just a lot of like talking with your friends, listening to music too loud, being distracted and causing accidents like that," she said.

While Moore admitted she tries to avoid driving recklessly, she said it's hard to avoid the aggressive and reckless behavior happening around her. 

"I had someone hang out like their sunroof like, or try climbing out their sunroof, like they sped pass me," she said.

According to a data study from the AAA, at least 2,108 teens are involved in a deadly crash yearly. The data showed 31% of those crashes happened during the100 deadliest days -- between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

The CDC also stated teens are more likely to drive under the influence and get distracted easily since they are inexperienced. 

The agency also stressed teens are most likely on their phones and driving, causing distractions. At least 9% of teens involved in fatal crashes were distracted.

Teens are also less likely to wear their seatbelts and speed if they are driving shorter distances, according to the CDC.

"Now that school is out, teens will spend more time on the road, often driving with friends at odd hours of the day and night. Because of their inexperience, teens are more susceptible to dangerous driving behaviors – like speeding, driving distracted, and not wearing a safety belt," said Waiters.

At least 17% percent of drivers involved in deadly crashes in Georgia were teens in 2021, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

From the data from the NHTSA, most of the fatal crashes happened in Fulton County and other metro counties over other counties in the state.

"Typically, the more drivers that you have on the road are more in the metro areas, predictably, you'll see more crashes in those areas," Waiters added.

The CDC believes parents can play a huge role in the safety of teens.

"It's about making sure that we as parents model good behavior for teens and making sure that we have that conversation with them about their driving behaviors and the safety that they need to take when they hit the road," said Waiters.

It's a tactic 19-year-old Julia Hicks agrees with. 

"It doesn't mean that you can just like, suddenly, like, be like super laissez-faire about like you always have to give it 100% of your attention," Hicks said.

It's recommended that parents make themselves aware of the eight danger zones that lead to death for teen drivers. 

  • Driver inexperience
  • Driving with teen or young adult passengers
  • Nighttime driving
  • Not using seat belts
  • Distracted driving
  • Drowsy driving
  • Reckless driving
  • Impaired driving

Georgia also has a graduated license program under the Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act. The program is an intense process that allows young drivers to gain more experience on the road, ultimately helping decrease the number of inexperienced teen drivers. 

The Peach State also requires teen drivers ages 16 and 17 to meet certain requirements and take education courses under Joshua's Law. Learn more about the law here.

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