The Deadliest Driving Season for Teens

With annual events like proms and graduation parties, and, of course, the starts of summer vacation, teens are more likely to be on the road this time of year; but parents beware, the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day has been labeled "The 100 Deadliest Days" for teen drivers.  

According to AAA, an average of 399 teens died in traffic crashes during each of the summer months (May-August), compared to a monthly average of 346 teen deaths during non-summer months. The seven most dangerous days on the road for teens during summer are May 20, May 23, June 10, July 4, July 9, Aug. 8 and Aug. 14. 

What can parents do to keep their teens safe?

To keep teens safe during these dangerous months and year round, AAA Insurance suggests the following tips for parents:

  • Eliminate trips without purpose. 
  • Limit passengers. Fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are present versus when teens drive alone.
  • Restrict night driving. A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles at night.
  • Establish a parent-teen driving agreement. Written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more.
  • Enroll teens in summer driving school. 
  • Be there. Make sure your teen knows that if they need help, advice or a ride, they can call you at any time. Extend this offer often and let your teen know that you are always available, and that they will not be judged or punished should they need your help.

MADD also suggests:

  • Talk about alcohol.  Use our Power of Parents® handbook to talk with you teens about not drinking alcohol until they are 21 and never get in the car with someone who has been drinking.
  • Buckle up. Insist on seat belts at all times and in all seating positions. Low seat belt use is one of the primary reasons that teen driver and passenger fatality and injury rates remain high.

The Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act (STAND UP act)

In the spring of 2011 the STAND UP act was introduced to the U.S. House and Senate.  This legislation would establish minimum federal requirements for state Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) laws and encourage all states to adopt GDL laws that meet those minimum requirements within 3 years.   GDL has consistently proven effective in reducing new driver crash risk.  MADD supports the STAND UP act and hopes that all states will adopt Graduated Drivers Licensing laws to help keep our teens safe on the road. 

Power of You(th) Winner Performs for Fellow Classmates

Yesterday, this year’s Power of You(th) video contest winner, Christian Alvarez, performed for his fellow students at Southeast High School in Bradenton, Florida.  After performing the rap that he wrote for the contest, he reminded them that they have the power to stop underage drinking. 

MADD National President Jan Withers also addressed the teens, telling them the story of her 15 year old daughter, Alisa, who was killed by an underage drunk driver 20 years ago.  But the dangers of underage drinking go beyond just drunk driving, she reminded students.  Whether teens are experimenting with beer, wine, or other liquor, alcohol presents a serious—and potentially deadly—threat. Compared with non-drinking classmates, teens who drink are more likely to:

  • Die in a car crash
  • Get pregnant
  • Flunk school
  • Be sexually assaulted
  • Become an alcoholic later in life
  • Take their own life through suicide

Despite these risks, alcohol is the drug most commonly used by youth—more than tobacco and more than marijuana or any other illicit drug.  It’s also the deadliest.  Teen alcohol use kills about 6,000 people each year, more than all illegal drugs combined.  Bottom line: underage drinking is dangerous, not to mention illegal.

Jan Withers and Michal Connolly from State Farm, with Christian Alvarez, the grand-prize winner for The Power of You(th) Video Contest.

Congratulations to Christian for winning this year’s grand prize!  And a big thanks to State Farm for sponsoring this important project.

View all of the winning Power of You(th) videos.

MADD Testifies in Favor of Requiring Interlocks for All Drunk Driving Offenders in D.C.

Today, J.T. Griffin, MADD’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy, is testifying before the Environment, Public Works and Transportation Committee in Washington, D.C. in support of ignition interlocks for all drunk driving offenders.   Currently, ignition interlocks are discretionary for repeat offenders in the district.  MADD is urging the committee to advance the Ignition Interlock Amendment Act of 2012, and in doing so, make sure these devices are required all convicted drunk drivers for at least six months.
We know it is not enough to simply revoke the license of a convicted drunk driver.  Studies show that 50 to 75 percent of convicted drunk drivers continue to drive even while their license is suspended. This is the reason why interlocks are so critical to protecting the public.  Convicted drunk drivers who have an interlock can keep their job, keep going to school, and at the same time, keep the public safe.

The Ignition Interlock Amendment Act of 2012 can save lives and hopefully bring the number of drunk driving deaths in Washington, D.C. to zero.  Similar laws in Arizona and Oregon have helped decrease drunk driving fatalities by 51 and 52 percent, respectively.  In Louisiana, drunk driving deaths are down by 40 percent. In New Mexico, drunk driving deaths have decreased by 30 percent. 

MADD’s support of ignition interlocks for all convicted drunk drivers is simple—it is about saving lives and stopping drunk driving. 

Learn more about the hearing or watch it live starting at 1:00 p.m. EST on May 23, 2012.   

National EMS Week

MADD often acknowledges and thanks the heroes in law enforcement who work to keep our roads safe, but this week we want to honor another group of brave men and women who provide lifesaving contributions to the health and safety of our country: the emergency medical service providers.   This week is National Emergency Medical Services Week, a week to honor all of those who dedicate their lives to helping others.

As stated in the 2012 Emergency Medical Services Week Presidential Proclamation, “emergency medical services personnel demonstrate a profound commitment to our country and to our common humanity. Day after day, they answer the call to serve -- to step into crisis and spark hope where it grows dim. This week, let us pay tribute to these selfless individuals and renew our promise to provide them with the support and services they need to protect their communities.”  Read the full Presidential Proclamation.

As first responders, EMS personnel provide vital services in the aftermath of a drunk driving crash.  We honor you and thank you for all you do.

Tips to Help Drivers Stay Safe on the Road this Memorial Day Weekend

As families across the country get ready to kick off the summer and honor our military heroes this Memorial Day weekend, MADD urges motorists to stay safe on the road during a time of year when drunk driving deaths typically increase. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2010, 158 people were killed in drunk driving crashes nationwide.

Here are five tips for safe driving over the holiday weekend and year-round:

  1. Plan a safe way home. Arrange a sober ride home, or offer to be the sober designated driver.
  2. Wear a seat belt. Seat belt usage is one of the best ways to stay safe on our roadways.
  3. Don’t call or text. Any form of impaired driving poses a serious threat to those on the road.
  4. Slow down. Respect all posted speed limits.
  5. Be aware. Pay attention to other drivers on the road and avoid those driving erratically.

Law enforcement agencies across the country will be intensifying their efforts over the holiday weekend, so MADD encourages drivers to utilize these tips, which have the power to save lives and prevent injuries.

Get more information about how to spot a drunk driver and what to do, or learn more about MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®

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