Focus on Preventing Driving Deaths During Deadliest Period

The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the time when motorists are more likely to be injured or killed in fatal crashes involving a teen driver.  It is described as the “100 deadliest days,” by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. More than 1,000 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in 2016, according to the organization, a 14 percent increase compared to the rest of the year and a figure that equates to 10 people per day.

The two AAA Clubs in Connecticut -- AAA Northeast and AAA Greater Hartford -- gathered with Federal and State traffic safety advocates in Hartford to draw attention to the data in the hopes of reducing the numbers in the coming three month period.

"The number of fatal crashes involving teen drivers during the summer is an important traffic safety concern for AAA," says Fran Mayko, AAA Northeast spokeswoman.  “Research shows young drivers are at greater risk during this time, and have higher crash rates compared to older, more experienced drivers because of two factors: speeding and nighttime driving."

Over the last five years in Connecticut, there have been 44 fatal crashes involving teen drivers, including 12 last summer during the 100 "Deadliest Days" period. At least half of the crashes occurred after 9 pm, according to data obtained through UConn's CT Crash Data Repository, officials pointed out.

Although none of the victims in those 12 crashes was a teen driver, the driver's passengers or someone in another vehicle were either injured or killed. "Statistics shows these crashes affect everyone on the road, not just teen drivers or their parents," says Mayko. "Education, coupled with proper driver training and parental involvement, will help teen drivers become better, safer drivers on our roadways."

Based on 2016 National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, the AAA Foundation research highlighted the following:

  • 36% of all motor teen driver vehicle fatalities occurred between 9:00 pm and 5:00 am;
  • There was a 22% increase in the average number of nighttime crashes per day involving teen drivers between May and September compared to the rest of the year;
  • 29% of all motor vehicle deaths involving a teen driver were speed-related;
  • 1 in 10 nighttime crash fatalities and 1 in 10 speed-related fatalities involved a teen driver.

Overall, Connecticut traffic deaths have been inching up for most of the past few years on average, mirroring a national trend.  Traffic deaths were down in 2017 to 284, according to the UConn Crash Data Depository, after  reaching an historic high of 311 in 2016, after a steady increase in the previous few years (278 in 2015, 248 recorded in 2014).  Nationally, traffic fatalities are the highest they’ve been since 2008.

AAA urges parents to discuss the higher risks teens face during the summer and to familiarize themselves with Connecticut's Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws and become actively involved in the learn-to-drive process involving their inexperienced teen.  To prepare for the summer drive season, AAA also encourages parents to:

  • Discuss early and often the dangers of risky driving situations with their teens;
  • Teach by example and minimize their own risky behavior when behind the wheel;
  • Make and enforce a parent-teen driving agreement that sets driving limits based on the state’s GDL.
  • Visit that offers tools such as interactive widgets, highlighting teen driving risks and state licensing information. An online AAA StartSmart program also offers parental resources on how to become effective in-car coaches and ways to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is a not-for-profit, publicly funded research and educational organization, whose mission is to prevent traffic deaths and injuries by conducting research into their causes. It also educates the public about strategies to prevent crashes and reduce injuries when they do occur.