The Fourth of July holiday lands in the middle of the so-called 100 Deadliest Days, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day each year that puts all drivers at higher risk due to more teens being behind the wheel. The time period sees more crashes involving teen drivers, and more teens killed, than any other time of year.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, in the United States, the fatal crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is nearly three times the rate for drivers ages 20 and over. Risk is highest at ages 16-17. The World Health Organization’s Global Status Report on Road Safety 2015 states that road crashes are the number one killer of people ages 15-29.
With more teens driving over the summer, much of the driving recreational, and an increase in the number of passengers per vehicle — increasing distractions — teens and other drivers are at an increased risk for crashes. In addition, the Fourth of July holiday is one of the deadliest holidays for drunk driving crashes, according to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In an effort to combat these sobering statistics, auto insurance data analytics firm Octo and road safety company Together for Safer Roads (TSR), through the analysis of their own data, share six important safety tips.
1. Slow down and stay back. Octo’s data indicates that teen drivers tend to brake harder and speed more frequently than more seasoned drivers. Hard braking can be attributed to tailgating, not allowing enough time to gradually brake at stop signs and intersections, or by simply not paying attention to surroundings. Drivers should leave a “buffer zone” of at least one car length for every 10 m.p.h. of speed when following a vehicle.
2. Minimize distractions. This is especially crucial during holidays when many pedestrians are on the road. Ask passengers to be respectful and calm when you’re driving, and avoid distractions, which can include eating, tending to a grumpy child, or even applying makeup. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the US saw an increase of 9 percent in vehicle-related mortality from 2011 to 2012. In that year alone, 3,300 deaths and 421,000 injuries were related to distracted driving.
3. Have a roadside assistance plan. Know what your roadside assistance plan is — whether from an organization like AAA or through your insurance — before hitting the road.
4. Line up sober transportation. If you are driving and plan to drink even a little, consider alternative choices before going out. Plan public transportation routes, download a rideshare app, or identify restaurants in your area that participate in a designated driver program.
5. Buckle up. Enough said.
6. Never text and drive. According to the report “ A Meta-Analysis of the Effects of Texting on Driving,” published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, there is strong evidence that distracted driving, including text messaging while driving, is linked to crashes, deaths, and injuries on the road. If you have children, teach them through example that texting while driving is never OK.