Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on
 

Parents, beware: These are the 100 deadliest days for teens

By Kelly Wallace, CNN
May 23, 2014 -- Updated 2057 GMT (0457 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Memorial Day through Labor Day is the deadliest time for teen drivers
  • In 2012, nearly 1,000 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the summer
  • Researchers: Passengers increase the risk of a teen driver crashing by at least 44%
  • More than 40 states have laws limiting passengers for newly licensed drivers

Editor's note: Kelly Wallace is CNN's digital correspondent and editor-at-large covering family, career and life. She is a mom of two. Read her other columns and follow her reports at CNN Parents and on Twitter.

(CNN) -- Here's a sobering statistic for the unofficial start of summer, when we gear up for picnics, barbecues and our kids having more free time on their hands: Memorial Day kicks off what's known as 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.

From Memorial Day through Labor Day in 2012, nearly 1,000 people were killed in crashes involving teen drivers, and more than 550 of those killed were teens, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data analyzed by the nonprofit National Safety Council.

Some of the reasons for the spike make sense. Teens are driving more during the summer and it might be more recreational than purposeful, the National Safety Council reports. For instance, instead of driving back and forth to school, they might be driving to the beach, lake or river, and heading down roads they haven't driven before.

But one of the biggest reasons for the summer risk increase is that teens might be driving more frequently with more of their friends.

Will teen text and drive? "Probably"
Texting while driving: Do you?
How a mom runs home like the office

"We have always known that passengers were a big risk for teens, but what we're really finding out now is passengers may be one of the most important risks for teens, even more so than things like texting," said John Ulczycki, the National Safety Council's vice president of strategic initiatives.

READ: Steering teen drivers out of harm's way

Think about it this way, Ulczycki said: Passengers are a distraction the entire time a teen is driving, whereas the distraction from texting is probably limited to the seconds or minutes they're looking at screens instead of the road.

Passengers increase the risk of a teen driver having a fatal crash by at least 44%, according to the National Safety Council.

"It's tragic that parents don't really appreciate the risks of passengers," said Ulczycki, who said parents may understand the risks of texting or cell phone use, but aren't as aware of the dangers of a new driver hitting the road with friends in the car.

A majority of states have laws on the books regarding the number of passengers allowed for new drivers. Some states don't allow any for the first six months or year after getting a license; some allow one passenger.

''If you have a kid who had their license for less than one year, you have to think very, very carefully about the conditions or the situations in which you allow them to carry any passengers. You really do," Ulczycki said.

CNN iReport: Parents of teens share driving tips

Generation stressed: teens boiling over
Talking to teens about social media

Ulczycki, a father of six in Wilmette, Illinois, didn't allow his children to drive with passengers for the first year of their official driving lives. "It was a real bone of contention," he said. "They weren't happy about it, but they all survived."

A recent study found that loud conversations and horseplay between passengers were more likely than technology to result in a dangerous incident involving teen drivers.

The study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center tracked 52 high-school age drivers in North Carolina who agreed to have cameras installed in their cars. The study appeared in the Journal of Adolescent Health this spring.

When there was loud conversation in the car, teen drivers were six times more likely to need to take actions like making an evasive maneuver to avoid a crash. When there was horseplay in the vehicle, they were three times more likely to get into a similarly serious episode, according to the study.

"Forty-three states currently restrict newly licensed drivers from having more than one young passenger in their vehicle," Robert Foss, senior research scientist at the Highway Safety Research Center, and director of the Center for the Study of Young Drivers, said in a news release. "The results of this study illustrate the importance of such restrictions, which increase the safety of drivers, their passengers and others on the road by reducing the potential chaos that novice drivers experience."

READ: What sways teens not to drink, drive? Stories, not stats

Earlier this year, we traveled to Roxbury, New Jersey, to talk with Barb Dunn, her husband and her 16-year-old son Daniel about how they were trying to teach Daniel about safety as he learns to drive. Daniel will get his license on June 3.

When I recently got back in touch with Dunn about the dangers of the summer months, her anxiety went up.

CNN\'s Kelly Wallace writes that the sobering truth is that summer is among the deadliest time for teen drivers.
CNN's Kelly Wallace writes that the sobering truth is that summer is among the deadliest time for teen drivers.

"My first reaction is fear. Then sadness," Dunn said via e-mail. "I just heard a similar statistic about prom night being a very dangerous time. ... I think we have to take the time to to talk to our children and remind them of the risks and talk about how to minimize them."

Ulczycki of the National Safety Council said the best advice for parents is to understand the risks about passengers and drive with them so they can get accustomed to having people in the car. He also suggest parents consider the risks of driving at night.

"It's not the time of night. It's how dark it is. That's really the risk here, and I think too many parents think of night driving as a social curfew. 'Well, I'll let my kid stay out until 11 p.m. so he's fine,' " Ulczycki said. "It has nothing to do with that. It has to do with the risk of driving after dark."

READ: Zero tolerance makes zero sense: Teen punished for helping drunk friend

Stay in touch!
Don't miss out on the conversation we're having at CNN Living. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest stories and tell us what's influencing your life.

Annette DiCola Lanteri, a mom of two in Bayport, Long Island, has two girls who are still a few years away from driving age.

The best thing parents can do, she said on Facebook, is to teach teen drivers the best we can.

"Give them the most knowledge we can so that they can adequately protect themselves, then pray," DiCola Lanteri said. "There are so many variables and we only have so much control."

What do you think is the best way to keep teen drivers safe this summer? Share your thoughts in the comments or tell Kelly Wallace on Twitter or CNN Living on Facebook.

For more information on how to keep your teen drivers safe, go to the National Safety Council's DriveitHOME.org.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
November 26, 2014 -- Updated 1310 GMT (2110 HKT)
If it hasn't happened already, it likely will at some point: the moment you don't like one of your child's friends. What do you do?
November 25, 2014 -- Updated 1150 GMT (1950 HKT)
They say the first step to overcoming a problem is realizing you have one in the first place. An online quiz can help you determine whether you are over-reliant on your cell phone.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 1452 GMT (2252 HKT)
Options for meat substitutes have come a long way since Seth Tibbott's first few Thanksgivings as a vegetarian in the 1970s.
November 22, 2014 -- Updated 2112 GMT (0512 HKT)
Students unhappy with school meals are taking it out on the first lady by sharing images on social media of lunches sarcastically tagged #ThanksMichelleObama.
November 24, 2014 -- Updated 0255 GMT (1055 HKT)
A Louisiana family is fighting to protect its beloved pit bull from a "vicious dogs" ordinance.
November 21, 2014 -- Updated 2220 GMT (0620 HKT)
November is National Adoption Awareness Month. CNN's Michaela Pereira grew up in a family of five adopted girls in Canada and eventually reunited with her biological half-sister.
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 1939 GMT (0339 HKT)
It began for Nickolay Lamm as a question: What would Barbie look like if she had the dimensions of an average woman?
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 0216 GMT (1016 HKT)
Bill Cosby was thought of as a perceptive comedian and genial father figure. Now, that persona pairs with another, much darker image.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1735 GMT (0135 HKT)
If you think 'my teen would never sext,' you might be mistaken. Recent studies suggest it's more common than many parents might want to admit.
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 1144 GMT (1944 HKT)
I pictured myself graduating from college, getting a cool job and even having a cute place of my own. Instead, I wake to the early-morning sounds of my family dog barking and my parents making coffee downstairs.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1738 GMT (0138 HKT)
Samantha Futerman and Anais Bordier tease, poke and prod each other like they've grown up together, but they didn't. Neither woman knew she had an identical twin sister until less than two years ago.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1402 GMT (2202 HKT)
A school district in Maryland has decided to remove all references to religious holidays from its school calendar, leaving some in the community frustrated.
November 13, 2014 -- Updated 1706 GMT (0106 HKT)
Female veterans often have a harder time finding employment than their male counterparts. But why?
November 14, 2014 -- Updated 2019 GMT (0419 HKT)
I simply couldn't believe my eyes. At a children's party this year, I witnessed full-on "mean girl" behavior.
November 10, 2014 -- Updated 1724 GMT (0124 HKT)
Several children were sent to the hospital after being sickened by ingesting detergent pods.
November 12, 2014 -- Updated 1446 GMT (2246 HKT)
There are plenty of times when I literally wish I could take a hammer to the portrayal of girls and women in the media. In a new ad, a little girl gets to do just that.
November 8, 2014 -- Updated 1509 GMT (2309 HKT)
"Playing doctor" and "I'll show you mine if you show me yours" are common rites of passage in childhood sexual behavior, according to the experts.
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
A tech startup claims credit for making Alex from Target go viral, but there's skepticism about how involved it was, if at all.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 2247 GMT (0647 HKT)
A soft toy for cribs lets babies post pictures of themselves to social media.
November 4, 2014 -- Updated 1655 GMT (0055 HKT)
Schools are increasingly confronting a controversial question: Should they do more to monitor students' online interactions off-campus to keep them safe?
November 6, 2014 -- Updated 1656 GMT (0056 HKT)
The National Toy Hall of Fame recently inducted three new favorites into its hallowed halls. What's your favorite?
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 1409 GMT (2209 HKT)
We don't know, and may never know, what led to the Washington school shooting, but we have to ask ourselves, following this tragedy, if we are doing enough to help our boys deal with difficult emotions without resorting to violence.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
The viral video of a New York woman being catcalled on the street has men asking, "So, what should I do?" The answer starts with respect.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1840 GMT (0240 HKT)
Trick-or-treating and dressing in costume have been Halloween traditions for a good long time now, but it seems we're still struggling to get it right.
October 31, 2014 -- Updated 2038 GMT (0438 HKT)
Yes, there's actually corn in it. Corn syrup, if that counts.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Walmart found itself sending apology tweet after apology tweet after the Twitterverse raked it over the coals for a major goof on its website.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 2002 GMT (0402 HKT)
There aren't too many times when I'm speechless about what I consider an outrageous example of parenting. This is one of those times.
October 27, 2014 -- Updated 1157 GMT (1957 HKT)
Holy crap, LeVar Burton.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 2138 GMT (0538 HKT)
Critics pounced on supermodel Gisele Bundchen for advocating a little mommy "me time" recently. When did it become a crime to admit that you -- as a parent -- put yourself first?
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1621 GMT (0021 HKT)
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Not again.
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
"Breaking Bad's" drug-dealing chemistry teacher Walter White will have to stop making the sale at Toys R Us.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
I happen to agree with Renee Zellweger that all the chatter about her face is "silly." But I, and many other women I talked with via email Wednesday, would add some other choice words to the mix to describe the non-stop attention about her appearance: nasty, cruel, hurtful, invasive and sexist.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2206 GMT (0606 HKT)
I have long thought millennials, who expect flexibility in the workplace, would be the group that would bring an end to the stigma that is too often associated with flex time -- the belief that wanting a flexible work arrangement means you aren't willing to work as hard. But now I'm thinking it's going to be men who will get us there.
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1140 GMT (1940 HKT)
Say it with us: Kids today have it sooooo easy.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1829 GMT (0229 HKT)
An Atlanta judge reportedly reprimanded an immigration attorney for bringing her 4-week-old to court for a hearing -- a hearing she asked the judge to reschedule because she was on her six-week maternity leave.
November 18, 2014 -- Updated 1604 GMT (0004 HKT)
Monica Lewinsky tweeted for the first time. She called herself "patient zero" of cyber-bullying.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1943 GMT (0343 HKT)
Meet Shyanne Roberts, a 10-year-old competitive shooter with something to prove: "Kids and guns don't always mean bad things happen."
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1350 GMT (2150 HKT)
strawberry ghosts
We love Halloween season. Sweets. Sweaters. Sipping hot cider (maybe spiked). Halloween can certainly get you in the spirit, and nothing warms our hearts like these healthy Halloween treats that help you stay energized instead of stuck in a sugar coma.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1923 GMT (0323 HKT)
Does your baby cry during long flights, causing you to want to disappear from the glares of fellow passengers?
November 20, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
Ask any teen if they suffer from social media anxiety and they would probably tell you no. But the truth is getting "likes" and the fear of missing out are adding stress to teens' lives.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 1313 GMT (2113 HKT)
Many photographers have taken it upon themselves to document stillborn and terminal babies' precious moments after birth.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1946 GMT (0346 HKT)
As part of the insurance coverage offered to its female employees, Facebook is paying to freeze their eggs.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1815 GMT (0215 HKT)
Amal Alamuddin was well-known in many important circles long before she snagged the world's most eligible bachelor. But Amal Alamuddin is now Amal Clooney, according to her law firm's website.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1642 GMT (0042 HKT)
Trends in young adult fiction have shifted from wizards to glittering vampires to bloodthirsty "Hunger Games" and now, to teens coping with illnesses and realistic issues.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0056 GMT (0856 HKT)
Before he died this year, 14-year-old Martin Romero wanted to do something for his community.
cnn, parents, parenting, logo
Get the latest kid-related buzz, confessions from imperfect parents and the download on the digital life of families here at CNN Parents.
ADVERTISEMENT