San Diego

100 Days of Summer Deadliest Time for Teen Drivers: AAA

Summer is the deadliest season for young drivers across the country, according to a recent report.

The report from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found nearly 3,500 people have been killed over the past five years in crashes involving teen drivers within the nearly 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

According to the study, drinking and driving and speeding are among the top killers.

The study found one in six teen drivers involved in fatal crashes during the summer tested positive for alcohol.

Half of teenagers reported speeding on a residential street in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent said they sped on the freeway.

"Each and every one of us knows you’re not supposed to speed, you’re not supposed to drink and drive, and you’re not supposed to drive distracted. However, people continue to do it," said CHP Officer Jim Bettencourt.

"When you do things like that, the chances of you getting into a crash are 10-times greater than if you were just following the simple rules of the road," he said. 

When it comes to distraction, the AAA Foundation study found 52 percent of teen drivers said they had read a text message or email while driving in the past 30 days and nearly 40 percent reported sending one.

Under California law, teenagers aren’t allowed to use any electronic device while driving -- even hands-free -- until they are 18 years old. Bettencourt admits, it is a hard habit to break.

"It is so difficult for, especially teens, to put those phones down when they get behind the wheel because they’re so tied to them, they’re so used to them,"Bettencourt said.

Coronado High School student Thomas Pate is preparing to take his driver’s test in a couple months. He said there are enough distractions to worry about, without having a cell phone in the mix.

"I couldn’t even see myself being able to drive and text at the same time, because you never know what’s gonna like come up behind you, or something could pop out in front of you. You have to be aware," Pate said.

Classical Academy High School student Alexis Marion said she agrees, being aware of her surroundings is one of the biggest challenges she faces behind the wheel.

"Just kind of figuring out where other people are going and what they’re doing. Trying to communicate without really being able to communicate," Marion said.

Bettencourt, whose own daughter will be getting her license next month, said it’s important for parents to spend as much time as possible with their teenager behind the wheel. 

"Talking to them about driving, to make sure that they’re efficient at doing something that is really the deadliest thing that they can do at that age," Bettencourt said.

There are a number of driving education programs available to help teenagers be even more prepared out on the road. The Auto Club offers "Dare to Prepare" workshops for parents and teens. CHP also offers several programs, including a free 2-hour Start Smart class.

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