Summer is supposed to be a time of celebration for teens and their families with prom, graduation and college on the horizon. Unfortunately, new analysis of crash data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) shows that July 4 is the deadliest day for teens on the road and is just as deadly for the motorists that will be driving alongside them.
In the U.S., car crashes are the number one cause of death for everyone ages 1-34, with teens crashing four times more often than any other age group. Based on the latest available data, IIHS reports that more than 800 people were killed on July 4 from 2006-2010. And if the projections remain true this year, an average of 140 people will lose their lives on July 4 due to car crashes. Oregon lost 39 during the month of July due to fatal car crashes. July trends as one of deadliest months on the road for all drivers.
Teens accounted for nearly 10 percent of the fatalities that occur on July 4 and are particularly susceptible to fatal distracted driving incidents. Research from The Allstate Foundation found that 49 percent report that texting is their biggest distraction behind the wheel.
"These tragedies are compounded by the fact that many crashes are preventable," stated Shauna McBride, Allstate Northwest Region Spokesperson. "Driver error, speeding and distractions are the main causes of crashes, and seemingly simple activities such as switching radio stations or interacting with friends can significantly impair a teen's or adult's ability to react quickly to changing traffic conditions. Staying focused on the road, wearing seat belts and following the speed limit and other road rules are simple steps we can all take this July 4 to make sure that we return home safely."
Currently, legislation that would encourage the states to enact optimal teen driving laws, or Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws, is being considered by Congress as a part of the Surface Transportation Reauthorization bill. GDL policies have been shown to reduce traffic fatalities by as much as 40 percent in the states where they have been adopted. Additionally, recent research from The Allstate Foundation's License to Save report found that comprehensive GDL laws could save an estimated 2,000 lives and $13.6 billion annually.
Allstate and The Allstate Foundation urge Americans to do their part in making roads safer for all families during the Independence Day holiday. The Allstate Foundation's website is a great tool for additional facts and resources that can keep everyone safe on America's roads. Parents in particular can take simple steps to help their teens be safer on the road:
• Talk to your teen early and often. Discuss the risks and responsibilities of driving with your child at a young age and keep talking to your teen before, during and after the licensing process.
• Don't rush the training process. Just because teens have a permit or license doesn't mean they are ready for every driving condition. By easing into the training process, you'll help ensure you and your teen will be ready for any situation.
• Understand your state's laws. GDL laws are minimum standards that can help keep teens safer on the road; however, the more that parents are involved in their teen's driving experience, the more likely they will be a safer driver and passenger. To help educate parents and teens about the safety measures that keep drivers protected, The Allstate Foundation created a new free Parent-Teen Driving Agreement. The agreement can help parents and their teens make safer decisions when they get behind the wheel and when they ride as passengers with their friends.
• Practice what you preach. Be a positive role model when you're behind the wheel. Your teen is more likely to be a calm and courteous driver, wear a seat belt and follow the rules of the road if they see you do the same.