Twin Cities parents know how excited their teens can get when summer arrives. School’s out, and the days are finally hot enough for kids to wear shorts and t-shirts and meet their friends at the lakes, pools and parks. But when your teens are driving, their summertime freedoms may come with deadly risks.
Your teen’s summer break coincides with the 100 deadliest days for Minnesota drivers. According to WCCO, the State Highway Patrol sees an increase in fatalities each year between Memorial and Labor Day.
Four leading causes for traffic deaths
In 2018, the stretch between Memorial and Labor Day saw 124 traffic deaths. The Highway Patrol claimed that number accounted for nearly one-third of the year’s traffic deaths. It also claimed that most of those deaths owed to the same four main factors:
- Alcohol use
- Distracted driving
- Choosing not to use seat belts
It’s easy to think of teens getting distracted while they drive. But the Highway Patrol pointed out that alcohol-related crashes led to four times as many deaths as distracted driving. A report from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety adds to this point. It says that underage drivers got into 1,212 impaired driving incidents in 2017.
The Office of Traffic Safety also reported the times when drunk drivers were most likely to get into fatal crashes. Nearly half of those crashes took place Saturday and Sunday. Midnight and 5 p.m. were the most dangerous hours. Drivers were almost twice as likely to get into a fatal, alcohol-related crash near those hours than at any other time.
What can you do?
We’re already well into the 100 deadliest days, but as a responsible parent, you can talk to your teen about driving safely, wearing a seat belt and watching out for signs of drunk driving. You might also think about setting a curfew or other rules. The Office of Traffic Safety report also appears to suggest that parents could halve their teens’ chances of getting into a fatal accident with a drunk driver simply by telling them to get home before midnight.
Unfortunately, no parent can keep their kids 100% safe. Teenagers want to test their independence, and parents can’t always keep themselves safe. But you want to do everything you can. Make sure your teens avoid the four deadliest driving behaviors.