COLUMBUS (WCMH) – It’s an exciting time for many teens. Summer is near, the sun is shining, and COVID-19 restrictions will soon be lifted.
There is a lot to look forward to for teens, like getting behind the wheel, but experts say there’s an added worry for fatal crashes involving teens.
According to the American Automobile Association (AAA), this week marks the start of the 100 Deadliest Days for teen drivers, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers increases.
Kimberly Schwind with AAA said that between 2010 and 2019, more than 7,000 people died in teen driving-related summertime crashes.
“During the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers, we see an average of seven deaths per day from crashes during the summer months,” she said. “This is compared to about six deaths per day during the rest of the year.”
In Ohio, an average of 23 teen drivers are involved in fatal crashes every summer.
“The CDC said the number one reason teens crash is inexperience,” Schwind said.
These crashes are why AAA has opened a new driving school at its Worthington headquarters. The club will host its first class on June 7 at 5:30 p.m., with additional classes to come with the hope those crash numbers will decrease.
“We’re beginning to see increases in crashes for those 18,19, even up to 24-year-olds because they’re getting their licenses without taking driver education,” Schwind said.
To get a driver’s license in Ohio, new drivers are required to take 24 hours of classroom driver education, eight hours of behind-the-wheel training, and drive 50 hours with an instructor or supervisor. Classroom education can be done in-person or online through a state-approved driving school or online driving course.
Schwind says when driving schools were closed last year due to the pandemic, many teens with learner’s permits took their 24 hours of classroom instruction through a state-approved online program. However, they couldn’t complete their behind-the-wheel training because schools were closed during a portion of the year due to the pandemic.
Now, with schools opening back up, some are remaining closed, which adds another problem: a backlog of students waiting to get those driving lessons.
“We saw a huge surge in people taking the driver education course online, but it’s really that behind-the-wheel experience that is so key,” Schwind said.
AAA doesn’t want to see more teens lose their lives while driving, which is why it is also challenging parents to get involved in educating their teens about safe driving.
As teens take to the road this summer, especially with pandemic restrictions easing, AAA is offering the following tips to parents to help teach their teens:
Discussing the dangers of risky driving behaviors, including speeding and nighttime driving.
Teaching by example and minimizing risky behaviors when driving.
Making a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers. Consider setting driving limits that are stronger than the state’s current law and enforce those limits.
Additional information on AAA Driver Education can be found at AAA.com/DriverEducation.