SPRINGFIELD, Mo.–It’s that time of year when school is out and kids are enjoying summer break. It’s also when teenagers are more likely to be driving.
Memorial Day unofficially marks what is known as the “100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers.”
For Megan, Helen, Victoria, and the rest of her high school friends, summer break is all about jumping in the car with safety in mind for some fun in the water.
“Two hands on the wheel and phone down,” says teen driver, Victoria Kubitschek.
Helen knows to get there safely to soak in the sun, she has to get rid of distractions in her car.
“At this point, I don’t keep my phone in the front seat with me. I try and leave it in my backpack and when my friends are in the car, I just make sure there’s only one,” says teen driver, Helen Beisswenger.
“I think planning out a route before I go somewhere will help me be less distracted,” says teen driver, Megan Dempsey.
While these girls seem to have the rules of the road down pat, the same can’t be said about their peers.
Sgt. Jason Pace of Missouri State Highway Patrol says, “Speed, distracted driving, seat belt usage, and driving at night are contributors to these increased number of fatal crashes that we see in these next 100 deadliest days for that teenage driver.”
In the summer of 2016, nearly 50 teen drivers died in car crashes and most of them weren’t wearing seatbelts.
“Sadly, we see a lower number of teens being buckled up than we do experienced drivers. Secondly, for a 16 year-old driver, they are limited to the number of passengers. We know that passengers can be a distraction when they’re driving so that first six months after they turn 16, they’re only allowed to have one passenger in the car under the age of 19 that is a non family member,” says Sgt. Pace.
Teen drivers increase the risk of deadly crashes by 44% when carrying other passengers in the car.