State News

Is Summer More Dangerous for Teen Drivers? Data Suggests it May Be


With the passage of Memorial Day on Monday, a time of year is beginning which may be the most dangerous time to be a teenage driver in Florida. According to an assessment by AAA spokesman Mark Jenkins, we're now in a time known as the '100 deadliest days for teen drivers', when data shows fatal car accidents involving adolescents increases.

Data collected from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that nearly half of fatal accidents involving teen drivers occur during the 100-day period in question, which runs through Labor Day weekend in September. In 2023 in Florida, teenagers were involved in almost 20,000 crashes during this period, with 68 of them being fatal and 83 people being killed in total.

So why is the risk suddenly higher in the summer? It may be as simple as teens having more time to drive. “The risk gets higher during the summer for teen drivers and everyone else they share the road with,” Jenkins said of the trend. “Now that school is out, these young, inexperienced drivers will spend more time on the road with their friends."

Still, the worrying trend isn't necessarily a cause for parents and guardians to shut down their teens' driving altogether. According to Jenkins' report, there are several steps that can be taken to lower the risk of a fatal traffic accident over the summer. Namely, teens should refrain from distracted driving habits like cell phone usage, avoid peer pressure to drive dangerously for fun, obey the speed limit, and always wear their seat belts. In particular, teen drivers who were speeding or who were not wearing a seat belt make up a large portion of fatal accidents in 2023.

Beyond that, parents and guardians can also take an active role in making their teens safe drivers. "The single most important thing parents can do to help their teens become safe drivers is to be involved in their ‘learning to drive’ process,” added Rachel Wilson, AAA Director of Driver Education Programs. “Spend time coaching your teen while they’re behind the wheel and have a serious discussion about safety."