DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Schools are closed, activities are limited and many summer jobs have been canceled. At the same time, COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted. Experts say that combination could lead to a deadly summer on the roads for teen drivers.
“We lose way too many teens to fatal crashes at an early age. It’s just not right for those lives to be done so early,” said Pat Brown, Supervisor of AAA driving school. “In the summer they’re able to drive more often, they’re not in school anymore, so they’re able to go out in the cars a little more often and it does have the numbers go up in the summertime.”
In Ohio, nearly 300 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers in the past ten years during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in teen-related summertime crashes from 2008 to 2018.
According to AAA, parents remain the best line of defense to keep everyone safe behind the wheel. It’s never too soon to educate teens on the dangers of distracted driving, speeding, and the impairing effects of alcohol and marijuana. But officials say parents must also lead by example.
“We never leave the house without a seatbelt on. I try to limit texting and driving at all costs. I’m always trying to give him tips as I’m driving, defensive driving all those things, but actually, my son is the one that keeps me on track and focused as he’s learning these things,” said Dwan Bryant.
Bryant said her 15-year-old son was supposed to get his permit in March shortly before the shutdown. In the meantime, she’s teaching him to drive on her own.
“This has really been a great time to actually just go out and drive because the traffic is much less than what it would have been otherwise,” she said.
To support parents during COVID-19, AAA has a free guide to help parents run practice driving sessions with their teens. The “Coaching Your New Driver – An In-Car Guide for Parents” offers behind-the-wheel lesson plans, including a variety of “DOs and DON’Ts” to make the learning experience as helpful as possible.
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