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MAPFRE Car Pileups GraphicMemorial Day marked the long awaited, unofficial start to summer. Unfortunately, it also marked the first day of the 100 deadliest days of summer. According to an American Automobile Association (AAA) study, in the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day, the average number of deadly teen driver crashes increases by 15%. The major factors relating to these deaths include speeding, drunk driving and distracted driving. It is crucial to educate teens on the importance of safe driving this summer, and MassDOT and MAPFRE Insurance support the initiative.

Speeding accounted for 28% of teen driving related deaths during the summers of 2013 to 2017, and one out of six teens involved in fatal crashes during the summer months tested positive for alcohol. While distracted driving only accounted for 9% of the total number of crashes, this factor is very much an under reported problem. Law enforcement may not always be able to detect distracted driving following a crash; however, after conducting some additional research, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distracted driving causes 58% of teen crashes.

In addition to these statistics, AAA found that fatal teen driver crashes increase by 51% if the teen driver has teen passengers in the car. With school being out for summer, this situation is more likely to occur, leading to an increase in distracted driving.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA), teens, as well as parents, can safely enjoy the summer by taking these necessary steps in order to avoid becoming a statistic:

  • Share the road. Warmer weather brings more motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Teens should be aware that they need to share the road, and be mindful of the fact that encountering other roadway users can happen anytime and anywhere. Following the speed limit is the best way to allow time to react to any possible encounters.
  • Perform regular vehicle maintenance. Make sure the teen’s car is in safe and reliable condition before handing them the keys. Regular maintenance checkups can help prevent breakdowns and help them stay knowledgeable of any recalls their vehicle may have.
  • Go over a safety checklist. A basic safety checklist can help avoid any issues that may occur while on the road. This includes checking tire pressure and equipment, making sure all lights are working, checking on all fluid levels, and examining the condition of the wiper blades.
  • Protect yourself and your loved ones. Teens buckle up less frequently than adults do. According to NHTSA, over half of teens killed in crashes in 2013 were not wearing a seat belt, and 90% of these teens’ passengers were also not wearing one.
  • Avoid risky driving behaviors. Teens must be reminded that drinking before the age of 21 is illegal, and that alcohol and/or marijuana mixed with driving could have deadly consequences, no matter one’s age. It is especially important to remind teens about the dangers of texting, dialing and/or using mobile apps while driving. Have them make their phone off-limits when they are on the road and turn on the “Do Not Disturb” or similar feature on their phone. Massachusetts has a Safe Driving Law which bans all handheld electronics by junior operators while behind the wheel.

A great way to ensure that teens will follow these rules is if they see their parent or guardian doing so too. Adults should have a “do as I do” mentality when teaching safe driving to their teens.

Even the safest of drivers can find themselves in need of assistance, which is why the MassDOT Highway Assistance Program sponsored by MAPFRE Insurance is here to help with fixing minor mechanical problems, flat tires, fuel shortages, and emergency situations. The Highway Assistance Program drivers monitor some of the state’s busiest highways and turnpikes around Metro Boston, Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod (seasonal). The Highway Assistance Patrol covers 13 major state roadways and interstates, the Emergency Service Patrol covers the Mass Pike (I-90) from New York to Boston and the Incident Response Operators cover the Metropolitan Highway System and tunnels. The Highway Assistance Patrol is in service Monday–Friday between the hours of 6 a.m.–10 a.m. and 3 p.m.–7 p.m. During holidays, there are extended routes in heavy traffic areas. On I-90, and in Boston’s tunnel system, assistance is provided 24 hours per day, 7 days a week.

Written By Patrick McDonald, CPCU, CEO, Northeast Region, MAPFRE Insurance

 

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