Midway through the “100 Deadliest Days” nearly 500 teens in Kansas have been involved in crashes.
According to AAA Kansas, since the start of the Memorial Day weekend, the kickoff of the period known as the “100 Deadliest Days,” teen drivers (age 15-19) have been involved in 490 crashes across Kansas, resulting in three deaths and 145 people being injured. Property damage has occurred in 393 crashes, according to preliminary unofficial state data.
Considering all drivers, as of July 21, 258 people have died in fatal crashes on Kansas roadways in the first 202 days of 2017, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation, a rate that equates to about 1.3 deaths per day and which is up significantly from the past two years as well as the 4-year average from 2013-2016.
Kansas Crash Fatality Trends
|Period||Through July||Full Year|
*2017 fatality counts are through July 21, 2017.
“Summer brings a variety of increased roadway dangers for drivers, including more traffic on the roads – especially during busy holiday travel weekends – increased road construction in many areas, and more inexperienced teen drivers,” said Shawn Steward, spokesman for AAA Kansas. “Excessive speed, distracted driving – often involving mobile phones – impaired driving, and failure to use seat belts are all factors that play a role in injury crashes and fatal crashes. If drivers avoid these behaviors, we can eliminate or lessen the impact of many of these crashes and make our roads safer.”
Teen Driving Dangers
As previously reported by AAA Kansas at the beginning of the summer “100 Deadliest Days” period, new teen drivers, ages 16-17 years old, are three times more likely than adults to be involved in a deadly crash, according to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. This alarming finding relates to the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year. Over the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed nationwide in crashes involving inexperienced 16- and 17-year-old teen drivers during this deadly period.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety’s study, Rates of Motor Vehicle Crashes, Injuries, and Deaths in Relation to Driver Age, analyzed crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:
- 3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
- 2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
- 4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
- 3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash
Fatal teen crashes are on the rise. The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes increased more than 10 percent from the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) 2015 crash data, the latest data available. To reverse this alarming trend, AAA urges parents to help reduce the number of deadly crashes on the road by getting more involved and talking to their teens about the dangers of risky behavior behind the wheel.
“Parents are the front line of defense for keeping our roads safer during these dangerous summer months,” said AAA Kansas’ Steward. “It all starts with educating teens about safety on the road and modeling good behavior, like staying off the phone and buckling your safety belt.”
Three factors that commonly result in deadly crashes for teen drivers are:
- Distraction: Distraction plays a role in nearly six out of 10 teen crashes, four times as many as official estimates based on police reports. The top distractions for teens include talking to other passengers in the vehicle and interacting with a smart phone.
- Not Buckling Up: In 2015, the latest data available, 60 percent of teen drivers killed in a crash were not wearing a safety belt. Teens who buckle up significantly reduce their risk of dying or being seriously injured in a crash.
- Speeding: Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. A recent AAA survey of driving instructors found that speeding is one of the top three mistakes teens make when learning to drive.
To promote safer driving for teens and other drivers on the road, AAA advocates for the following restrictions and regulations:
|AAA Teen Driver Safety Recommendations
|AAA recommends no more than one non-family passenger younger than age 20 for at least first six months of licensure.|
|AAA recommends complete wireless device bans for all drivers younger than age 18.|
|Text Messaging Bans||AAA recommends prohibiting texting while driving for all drivers.|
|AAA recommends a standard seat belt enforcement law for all vehicle occupants.|
Additionally, to keep roads safer this summer, AAA encourages parents to:
- Have conversations with their teens early and often about distraction and speeding.
- Teach by example and minimize risky behavior when driving.
- Make a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
TeenDriving.AAA.com has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. The online AAA StartSmart program also offers great resources for parents on how to become effective in-car coaches as well as advice on how to manage their teen’s overall driving privileges. Teens preparing for the responsibility of driving should enroll in a driver education program that teaches how to avoid driver distraction and other safety skills. AAA also offers membership discounts for new teen drivers to help keep them safe on the road in case of an emergency.