Deadliest days for teen drivers has begun

BELLEVUE – While the Memorial Day holiday is an exciting time of year – kick off to summer, prom, graduation – it also indicates that we’ve entered the deadliest time of year for teen drivers.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 2008-2012 in the state, 100 people died in a traffic collision involving a driver age 16-20 years. AAA urges parents of teens to increase their focus on safety during the months ahead.

“Parents should not underestimate the critical role they play in keeping their teens safe, especially during these high-risk months,” said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington spokesperson. “When school’s out, teens have more opportunities to be behind the wheel increasing their risk. AAA encourages parents to start the summer off with a parent-teen driving agreement to clearly define their child’s driving responsibilities, privileges and consequences to set the stage for a safe summer.”

Nationally, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Across the nation in 2012, 1,875 young drivers (15-20 years) died in motor vehicle crashes. The good news is that teen driver (15-20 years) fatalities have been steadily declining this past decade, down 49 percent between 2003 and 2012.

Major contributors to teen driver involved traffic fatalities include impairment (illegal for anyone under age 21 years), speed and distraction. According to the Washington State Strategic Highway Safety Plan 2013:

• Of the 171 fatalities involving young drivers age 18-20 from 2009-2011, 54 perfect also involved impairment and 54 percent involved speeding. Combined, 35 percent of these fatalities involved both impairment and speeding.

• Of the 60 fatalities involving young drivers age 16-17 from 2009-2011, 35 percent also involved impairment and 52% involved speeding. Combined, 25 percent of these fatalities involved both impairment and speeding.

• 16- to 17-year-old female drivers involved in fatal collisions were more than twice as likely to have been driving distracted as their male counterparts, yet male drivers outnumber female drivers in fatal crashes by roughly 3 to 1. More than 44 percent of 16- to 17-year-old female drivers involved in fatal collisions were identified by police as driving distracted.

In Washington, teens who have earned their intermediate driver’s license have special restrictions on the number of passengers they may have in their vehicle and hours of the day when they’re not allowed to be on the road.

For specific details on the Intermediate Drivers Licensing restrictions in Washington, go to


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