Summer is upon us yet again which means time for long-awaited vacations and trips to the beach or lake to cool off. While the warm weather is a catalyst for lots of summertime fun and memories, it is also one of the deadliest times of the year for drivers.
More people are on the roads during this time of year because weather conditions are ideal for traveling and many teen drivers are out of school, said Franco R. Castillo, public information for the Williams area CHP.
“Speed, distracted driving, and driving under the influence are the biggest factors of traffic collisions,” Castillo said. “For teens, distracted driving is the number one killer, whether it’s the use of cell phones or even other young passengers being a major distraction.”
According to the U.S. Departmetn of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a total of 9,930 people died as a result of car crashes during the months of June, July and August 2017, which accounts for 26 percent of the years total.
FARS also reports that the most crash deaths occurred in July of that year.
Between 2013 and 2017, FARS reported that Independence Day was the day of the year with the most crash deaths, followed closely by August 2 and August 30.
Castillo said 11 teens die on average every day in the United States as a result of driving distracted and half of them are killed annually for not wearing their seat belts.
To spread awareness of what has been coined the “100 Deadliest Days,” AAA issued a press release outlining strategies drivers, especially teens, can use to keep themselves safe on the roads this summer.
“As an advocate for safe roads, AAA wants parents and guardians to be concerned about scary, but true, teen driving statistics,” said Michael Blasky, spokesperson for AAA Northern California. “Through education, training and parental involvement, we can help young drivers become better and safer drivers. This in turn, can help make the roads safer for everyone.”
In the release, AAA encouraged parents and guardians to lead by example and minimize risky behavior when driving. They also suggested talking with teens about the dangers of risky driving situations, such as speeding, impairment and distracted driving and making a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
“Not only do teen drivers pose a risk to themselves, they’re also a risk for their passengers and others they share the road with,” Blasky said. “We want parents and guardians to take this rite of passage seriously by setting and consistently enforcing rules for teen drivers this summer.”
Castillo suggested teen drivers should simply put away their cell phones while driving. He also said any passengers that witness a distracted driver in action should speak up.
“Be another set of good eyes on the road,” Castillo said.
As a general rule for dafe driving, Castillo said all drivers should get plenty of sleep before heading out on the road, wear your seatbelt, don’t use your cell phone while driving and don’t mix booze, drugs or prescription medications when driving.
“When driving at night, be aware that other drivers on the roadway can be fatigued, (or) driving under the influence as well,” Castillo said. “Watch out for deer on county roads, make sure your headlights are properly working before traveling at night and carry a flashlight as well in case you have to fix a flat.”
Castillo also recommended taking plenty of water on trips just in case you get stuck in an area that does not have many resources or it takes a while for a tow to arrive for assistance.