May 13, 2013
For teenagers, summer vacation is time to hang out with friends, and celebrate the end of the school year. However, that care-free attitude, combined with more opportunities to be in the car with other teens, is a deadly mix.
"We've always been real cautious with our kids driving," said Craig Wilson.
Wilson said he knew that his two children needed to be prepared when it was time for them to take the wheel, and with good reason.
According to AAA, car accidents are the leading cause of death among teenagers, and the period from Memorial Day to Labor Day are the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.
"They are absolutely partying a little more. Definitely more distraction, on their way to someplace fun like the beach. They are having a good time, as opposed to school,” said Shelia Jones, an instructor at Green Light Driving School.
According to AAA more than 7,300 teens died in traffic crashes during the summer from 2005 to 2009, with an average of 422 deaths per month.
Albemarle County Police say there are several factors that cause these crashes.
"Speeding, drinking and driving and distracted driving, but an inexperienced teenager drivers needs to be more cautious,” said Carter Johnson. “Especially this time of year when you have certain events like prom and graduation.”
One of the best ways to keep teens safe, is for parents to talk to their teens about the importance safe driving, something Craig Wilson says he has done.
"A lot of times you have other kids in the car which influences your decisions,” said Wilson. “We've had those discussions in advance, and I think that's key to their success on the road."
Wilson’s 17 -year-old daughter, Maddy, says she is prepared to hit the road this summer, and is thankful her parents pushed her to be a safe driver.
"I love that they forced me to spend all day out there behind the wheel. Just being alert of everything around you is really important,” Maddy said.
Although Maddy may be ready for this summer, AAA wants all teens to remember that safety doesn't take the summer off.
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