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Teen Drivers: Start the Conversation

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While it's important for teens to be safe anytime they get behind the wheel, during summertime it's critical that young people are even more alert on the roads. The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the 100 Deadliest Days, when the number of crash fatalities involving a teen driver historically rise.

Over the 100 Deadliest Days in North Carolina in 2018, there were 13,564 teen crashes resulting in 3,294 teen injuries and 18 teen deaths. Many factors that lead to teen-involved crashes are preventable.

Talking to Teen Drivers About Safety

Learning how to drive safely in a variety of traffic situations requires a lot of instruction, practice and exposure.

Seasoned drivers can lead by example as well as discuss and enforce the "5 to Drive" rules developed for new drivers by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

• No drinking and driving.

Remind your teen that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and alcohol and driving should never mix - no matter your age.

• Buckle up.

Remind your teen that it's important to buckle up on every trip.

• No phones.

Distractions lead to crashes. Remind your young driver about the dangers of using the phone while driving - whether it's texting, calling, navigating, browsing social media or changing music.

• No speeding.

Require your teen to drive the speed limit. Every time speed doubles, stopping distance quadruples.

• No more than one passenger at a time.

With each passenger in the vehicle, your teen's risk of a fatal crash goes up. Do not allow your new driver to ride with more than one passenger unless you are also present in the vehicle.

Also, remind your teen that as a passenger they have a right to speak up. Encourage them to say something if they feel unsafe while riding as a passenger in a vehicle. Passengers accounted for nearly one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. in 2013.

According to AAA national crash data from 2013-2017, the top factors are:

• Speeding

• Drinking & driving

• Distracted driving

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