July Fourth is the most dangerous holiday for drivers, and teens should be especially careful, according to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But why?
An average of 134 people die on the Fourth of July each year, including eight to 13 teenagers, reports Allstate Insurance, which analyzed IIHS data. That may not seem like a huge number, but as teen drivers crash at a rate four times higher than any other age group, they need to be especially careful on Independence Day, Allstate suggests.
Here are a few risky driving habits that make the Fourth of July so dangerous for all drivers, and especially teens:
Having friends in the car. Statistics show every passenger in a car increases the likelihood that a teen driver will crash. Males are particularly susceptible to distraction from other passengers, according to AOL News. For this reason, some states don't allow minor passengers to be in the car for the first six months after a new teen driver receives his or her license.
Not wearing seatbelts. Teens buckle up far less often than adults do. Only 76% of teens say they use seatbelts regularly, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Even more troubling, in 2009, the majority (56%) of young people 16 to 20 years old involved in fatal crashes were unbuckled.
Texting or calling while driving. As we all know, teens are often inseparable from their phones, relentlessly texting and calling friends. The problem is that they often send and receive text messages while they're driving. Recent research from The Allstate Foundation found that 75% of teens admit that they find reading and responding to texts distracting behind the wheel, which is up significantly from the 49% reported by teens in 2009.
Driving under the influence. Even though it's illegal in every state for people under 21 to buy and possess alcohol, all states have so-called "zero-tolerance" laws for underage DUI offenses. Still, nearly one-third of all deaths of 15- to 20-year-olds are the result of a motor vehicle crash, and about 35% of those fatalities are alcohol-related, according to NHTSA.
Speeding. Teens are more prone to accidents because they are newbie drivers, yet they often drive much faster than the road or traffic conditions call for. Speeding accounts for one-third of all fatal teen accidents, according to USA Today.
So make sure your teen drivers stay safe this Fourth of July. And remember, practice what you preach. If they catch you texting, what's to stop them from doing the same?