If you have a teenager at home, you may want to listen up: July is the most dangerous month to drive, according to a new study from Driving-Tests.org.
The learning site for permit test preparation and new driver education compared National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data on traffic fatalities from 2005 through 2011 and found the summer months to be the most dangerous time on the roads, especially for teen drivers. More than 27 percent of all traffic fatalities occur during the months of July, August and September, with July having more fatalities than any other month.
According to the NHTSA, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teens in the United States and car accidents are to blame for more than 35 percent of all fatalities among 15- to 20-year-olds, according to a news release from Driving-Tests.org.
"Teen driving goes up by 44 percent during the summertime, and during these months, teens tend to drive more often and they have less parental supervision than they do during the school year,” John B. Townsend II of AAA said in a news release.
Surprisingly, the study also found that driving while intoxicated was not the leading cause of crashes involving teens. More than 75 percent of serious teen-driver crashes are due to critical errors, including driving at unsafe speeds, lack of scanning to detect hazards, right of way, traffic signs and signals, and distracted driving (including both inside and outside distractions), which account for almost 50 percent of all teen accidents. DWI came in fourth on the list in the study.
Driving-Tests.org recently launched a "Be Safer and Driver Smarter" campaign to help teenage drivers. Here are some things to keep in mind:
* Parents need to get involved. "Teens who say their parents set rules and pay attention to their activities in a helpful, supportive way are half as likely to crash," the company said in its news release. "Experts agree that parents should talk openly about their expectations for when teens are behind the wheel."
* Set a curfew. According to the study, more than 40 percent of teen auto fatalities occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
* Limit passengers. "Put a cap on the number of passengers allowed in your teen's car, as the relative risk of a fatal crash increases as the number of passengers increases," the company said.
* Turn cellphones off in the car. A texting driver is 23 percent more likely to be involved in an accident than a non-texting driver, while talking on a cellphone can double the likelihood of an accident.
* Encourage your kids to speak up. The study found that only 44 percent of teens would speak up if someone were driving recklessly.