As California teens flood the roads over summer vacation, all drivers need to use caution. New reports from USA Today show that Memorial Day begins the “100 deadliest days of summer” for those drivers who are between 16 and 19. If it keeps pace with the past five years, experts expect about 1,000 people to die in crashes involving a teen driver over this time period, which sees a 16 percent increase in fatalities at the hands of teen drivers compared to the rest of the year.
Nearly 60 percent of crashes are due to driver distractions, which can include talking and texting. In fact, researchers found that in the six seconds before a crash occurred, 12 percent of teen drivers were using their cell phones in some fashion, including talking and texting. Some teens even use social media while on the road. Talking on the phone can distract a driver, but texting and other phone usage, like checking social media, is even more dangerous and is only on the rise. In 2007 drivers between 16 and 24 used their phones behind the wheel 1 percent of the time, but that number grew to 4.8 percent in 2014.
CNN reports that having a friend ride along is even more distracting than using a phone. A text might distract for a few seconds, but a passenger can distract for the duration of the ride, and there is a 44 percent increase in fatalities when a teen driver is not alone in the vehicle. While some parents don’t understand the risk their teen faces with passengers, many states do. There are laws on the books limiting passengers for new drivers or even prohibiting them completely for the first six months the driver is licensed.