How to keep your teen safe during the ‘100 Deadliest Days’

Over 30 percent of deaths involving teen drivers occur between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Published: May. 31, 2023 at 6:20 PM EDT
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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - Across East Tennessee, school’s out for the summer, and that means more teen drivers on the roads than normal. Experts say that new teen drivers are three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than their adult counterparts, with most of these accidents happen during what’s called the “100 deadliest days” between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers ages 16 to 19, so it’s important that drivers pay extra attention to their fellow drivers during the summer months.

Right now, we are in the most dangerous time of the year for teen drivers. Its known as the “100 deadliest days for teens.” According to AAA, more than 600 teens are killed in a crash every year during the summer months. Right here in Tennessee, there more than 70 teen deaths each year.

“Summer is historically a dangerous time for teen drivers,” said Megan Cooper, a spokeswoman for AAA. “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. AAA urges parents to model safe driving behavior and reinforce safe driving habits with their teen drivers to help keep them safe this summer.”

Greg Mangan is the President of Drive 4 Life Academy; he teaches defensive driving school to everyone, but mostly teenagers.

“What happens is the students, the teenagers, are now on their own more than they ever are during the school year. They often are breaking the graduated license laws and having more than one non-family member passenger in the car, and there is a lot of distractions in the summer time,” said Mangan. He’s referring to a law that says new drivers can only have one passenger at a time in their car, as long as they are not family.

Tennessee has seen a 49% increase in deaths involving a teen driver from 2015 to 2019; he said its easy to prevent if you follow the rules.

“Being prepared, it’s anticipating what the other drivers are going to do. By and large we have much more control over crashes than people want to admit. They always want to say ‘well the other guy did that; its his fault, its not my fault,’” said Mangan.

Some common risk factors we see for teen drivers are distracted driving, speeding and not wearing a seat belt. Mangan said understanding the risks and knowing the laws will prepare both you and your teenager for the road ahead.

“When they finish, we want them to be able to get in the car and go somewhere and not depend on mom to tell them its okay to pull out, don’t pull out yet, you’re going too fast, you’re going too slow. We need to prepare the for what they’re going to encounter out there,” he said.

Some advice for parents that have a new teen driver is to lead by example, making sure you’re following the rules as well. Conducting at least 50 hours of supervised practice driving and teach defensive driving skills is also recommended.

For more information on Drive 4 Life Academy and their defensive driving courses visit their website.