100 Deadliest Days of Summer: 10 Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe on the Road

The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are when teens are at highest risk of getting into an accident... here's how to protect your teen

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: 100 Deadliest Days of Summer: 10 Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe on the Road

Most parents really don’t want to talk about it. Heck, most of us don’t even want to think about it. But Memorial Day weekend marks the unofficial start of summer and a dangerous time of year for young drivers. In fact, the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are when teen accidents and fatalities are at their highest.

Whether your teen is a new driver or they’re more seasoned with a couple of years experience under their belt, make sure you sit down with them (again) and talk about the rules and responsibilities of driving and pass along these important tips. You are your child’s best defense. 

100 Deadliest Days of Summer: 10 Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe on the Road


#1 Limit Passengers

It’s summer… a time when teenagers want to be with friends, drive around town hitting all the hot “hangout spots,” and have a little carefree fun. But those friends piled in the back of their car also pile on added distraction and added risk for our kids. The risk of getting into an accident increases by 44% when they have a single passenger in the car. It doubles when they bring two teenagers along and it quadruples if they have three or more passengers. 

#2 Eliminate Distractions

According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, 58% of all teen crashes showed distractions as a major factor, including 89% of road departure crashes and 76% of rear-end crashes.

What they also found is that even the smallest distraction can lead to a crash. From chatting with other passengers in the car, texting and cranking up the music to looking for something in the car and even eating while driving – they all take a teen’s attention away from focusing on what’s important… driving.

#3 Always Buckle Up

It goes without saying that our kids should be buckling up every time they get in the car, but statistically, teens (both as drivers and passengers) are the biggest non-users of seatbelts. It turns out that upwards of 43% of teenagers don’t buckle up every time they drive even though research has shown that seat belts reduce serious crash-related injuries and deaths by nearly half. A few common excuses they use (that you need to talk about with your teen) are: 

  • I forgot
  • I wasn’t going that far
  • Seatbelts are uncomfortable
  • I didn’t want to wrinkle my clothes
  • For passengers: I wanted to take a nap 

#4 Obey Speed Limits

Interestingly, one study found that teenagers are notorious speeders, but their speeding wasn’t always attributed to intentional risky behavior. In other words, they didn’t realize they were speeding.

Considering 21% of all serious crashes that occurred with teens at the wheel were a result of speeding, make sure you remind your teen to stay vigilant and aware of posted speed limits.

It’s all too easy to get distracted and find themselves cruising at 45mph in a 30mph zone. Plus, the chance of having a serious injury (or worse) is much higher the faster they’re driving.

#5 NEVER Drive Impaired

When you’re a 16, 17, or 18-year-old teenager, you have a tendency to think you’re invincible and that you can handle certain situations. Drinking a beer or two or smoking weed with friends at a party and hopping in the car, (or even driving drowsy or exhausted) may not seem like that big of a deal to a teenager, but it can be a recipe for disaster for a young driver – not to mention that driving under the influence has serious legal implications if they’re pulled over AND it puts every other driver on the road at risk.

Alcohol and drugs alter their ability, coordination, perception, reaction time, and other skills needed to drive alert and safely. Talk to your teen…remind them that they should never drive when impaired or drive in a car with an impaired driver and that they should always have a backup plan to get home safely. Parents: Make sure your teen knows they can call you day or night for a ride.

#6 Stay Alert at All Times

More seasoned drivers may be a bit better at this than new drivers, but driving isn’t merely about following the rules of the road. Let’s face it, driving would be easy if our kids didn’t have to worry about what every other driver is doing.

Make sure they know to glance both ways before entering an intersection, pay attention to upcoming construction or lane closures and shifts, and keep their eye on their rearview mirror so they can be prepared for aggressive speeders approaching from behind. Even a few seconds of advanced warning and reaction time can make all the difference in the world. 

#7 Keep Attitude in Check

I know… the senior citizen driving 15mph below the speed limit is frustrating. And, that guy that came out of nowhere and cut our teen off can be really annoying. But our teen’s attitude and their ability to stay cool, calm, and collected on the road can make the difference between them getting to their destination safely or ending up in the emergency room.

There’s always going to be that one driver who does something frustrating or infuriating. Teach your teen to let it go – especially now that we’re seeing so much violence on the road! It isn’t worth it!

#8 Limit Night Driving

According to studies, reduced visibility, drowsiness, and a lack of experience behind the wheel are all factors that make driving at night more dangerous for teens.

In fact, a CDC (Centers for Disease Control) study found that the fatal crash rate at night among teen drivers is three times higher than that of adult drivers.

While it might not be possible to not ever allow your teen to drive at night (after all, how else will they gain experience) but you might want to limit nighttime driving for your younger, more inexperienced driver and drive with them at night until they gain experience.

#9 Download a Safe-Driving App

I know it’s scary to release your teen out onto the open road alone. The good news is there are plenty of safe-driving apps that can offer you insight into your teen’s driving habits, give you a heads up when they reach their destination safely and some even offer roadside assistance. 

Check out these 7 Best Apps to Keep Teen Drivers Safe on the Road

Here’s a FREE Car Accident Checklist Printable to Keep in Your Teen’s Glove Compartment!

#10 Create a Written Driving Agreement to Cut Risks

There’s one more simple step you can take to make sure your teen and you are on the same page about your family’s rules of the road – create a parent-teen driving agreement that outlines your rules in writing along with your clear expectations and limits. Include things like, always wearing a seatbelt, never texting and driving and never driving when impaired.

Work with your teen to create the contract (or download one of the many free printables) and map out your expectations and consequences if they break a rule. Keep it on the fridge or somewhere visible so it’s always in sight.

Here’s a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement you can download and print right NOW

I know our kids are excited about summer and we all want our kids to chill out, hang with friends, and have fun. But making sure our kids stay safe on the road starts with us… 

If you enjoyed reading: “100 Deadliest Days of Summer: 10 Tips to Keep Your Teen Safe on the Road,” here are a few other posts you might like to read:

Life-Saving Driving Tips Every Teen Should Know (Some Might Surprise You)

8 Potentially Deadly Driving Distractions Your Teen Needs to Avoid

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