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Teens, listen up: 27 pct of all traffic fatalities occur in July

That’s right: a review of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration traffic fatality data from 2005 to 2011 showed that more than 27 percent of all fatal motor vehicle accidents happen in July. That means this month is the most dangerous time of year to be on the road, and that’s particularly true for teen drivers.

That’s because car accidents are the leading cause of death among U.S. teens, according to NHTSA. In fact, traffic crashes cause over 35 percent of all deaths among people aged 15-20, says the driver education organization Driving-Tests.org. Moreover, teens drive more during the summer months — and with less adult supervision — than at any other time of year, according to AAA.

You’re probably thinking the explanation for those facts is that teens are more likely to be texting while driving than are adults. While that may be true, distracted driving is actually not the main cause of car accidents among teens. While distracted driving is one of the main causes of traffic accidents overall, for teens it’s only one factor.

The fact is, 75 percent of serious traffic accidents involving teen drivers are caused by critical driver errors. Teens are simply much less experienced drivers than society as a whole, and they haven’t yet built up the habitual skills that keep older drivers out of crashes.

The main types of critical driver errors cited after accidents involving teen drivers included:

  • Failure to visually scan the area for hazards
  • Excessive speed
  • Failure to yield the right of way
  • Neglecting to obey traffic signs and signals
  • Distractions — including teen passengers and distraction by things outside of the car, as well as cell phone use or texting

If you have young drivers in your household, make sure they understand your expectations for their driving behavior. Limit the number of passengers they can carry, consider setting a curfew, and make sure they follow this rule: drivers should turn their cell phones completely off before getting behind the wheel.

Source: News Inferno, “July the Most Dangerous Month for Teen Drivers,” F.A. Kelley, July 10, 2013

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