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Why Summer Is the Most Dangerous Time for Teen Drivers

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We’re well into summer, and if you are the parent of a teenager, your son or daughter has probably already had a month or more off of school. For many teens with driver’s licenses, summer means more time on the road—whether they’re driving to a summer job, going on a trip with friends, or even just driving to the movie theater across town. And while you might be relieved not to have to drive your teen everywhere, more time behind the wheel also means greater risks for accidents.

According to car accidents involving teen drivers, and more than 550 of those fatalities were teens themselves. These harrowing statistics aren’t necessarily a reason to take away your teenager’s keys as soon as the weather gets warmer, but they should serve as a reminder to discuss potential driving risks and safety precautions with your son or daughter.

To help you initiate that conversation, we’ve put together a list of reasons why summer can be a dangerous season for teen drivers and what you can do to help prevent accidents.

Summer Factors that Increase Odds of Accidents for Teen Drivers

Problem: Driving on unfamiliar roads

During the school year, your teen’s driving may have mostly consisted of driving to school and any off-campus extracurriculars or part-time jobs. In the summer, however, they may want to drive somewhere they’ve never driven before, like the beach or campgrounds 40 miles away from home. Unfamiliar roads coupled with inexperienced drivers can be a recipe for disaster.

How to Reduce the Odds of an Accident:

For longer trips, it’s best if you or another trustworthy adult accompanies your teen. However, if you agree to let your child drive somewhere they haven’t been before—say, on a day trip down the coast—have them look at directions ahead of time so that they familiarize themselves with the route. A navigational app on your child’s phone can also be helpful, but make sure that they know to rely on the voice instructions rather than to take their eyes off the road for several seconds to glance at the map. Remind your teen to keep their calm if they get lost and find somewhere safe to pull over, where they can check the directions again. 

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The Problem: Friends creating distractions

Distracted driving is one of the leading causes of car accidents, and while warnings about distracted driving often focus on cell phone use, passengers are also a common distraction for teen drivers. While some states impose restrictions on the number of passengers teens with intermediate licenses can have in their vehicles, Florida doesn’t have this kind of restriction. And with summer underway, teens have more time to get together with their friends—and spend more time in the car together.

How to Reduce the Odds of an Accident:

If you’re not comfortable with your teen driving a car full of rowdy passengers, set your own restrictions. If you do allow your teen to drive their friends around, make sure you talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving and the importance of staying focused on their environment—not the other people in the vehicle.

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The Problem: Alcohol

Even if your child doesn’t drink, his friends might. NHTSA data shows that there is a spike in drunk driving accidents around summer holidays, particularly Memorial Day and the Fourth of July. These holidays are a time when many people are taking weekend trips or heading over to friends’ houses for cookouts, and when alcohol gets thrown into the mix, the roads become more dangerous.

How to Reduce the Odds of an Accident:

Ask your teen not to drive at times known to be particularly dangerous for teen drivers, or at least ask them not to drive at night (with an intermediate license in the state of Florida, teens should not be driving on their own after 11 pm anyway). Caution your teen to watch out for dangerous driving behavior— weaving or sudden acceleration and deceleration—and to leave plenty of room if they see a driver who may be drunk. If your teen does drink, make sure they know it is better to call you and ask for a ride than to risk driving home drunk and put their lives in danger.

Remember, just because your teen has earned their driver’s license doesn’t mean they are done learning about defensive driving and the rules of the road. Continue to instruct your teenager when you drive with them, and they will hopefully begin developing the skills necessary to reduce their chances of being in a crash.

About the Author:

Lawlor Winston White & Murphey. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”

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