The next 100 days are the deadliest for teen drivers, AAA says

Reporter: Gail Levy Writer: Rachel Murphy
Published: Updated:

Monday marked the start of what AAA calls the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers.

This year alone, there have been several deadly crashes involving teenagers in Southwest Florida.

A Babcock Ranch crash killed a 16-year-old boy, and a high school graduate recently lost his life on a motorcycle.

Summertime is when young drivers hit the road, and whether it’s for work or play, teenagers drive a lot after school lets out.

Matt Jenkins, the AAA spokesman, agreed that teens drive more in the summertime.

“This is a time of year when inexperienced teen drivers are spending a lot more time behind the wheel than they would during the school year,” Jenkins said. “Some of the biggest risk factors for teen drivers are distractions, speeding and not wearing your seatbelt.”

Statistics show that teens drive more recklessly than experienced drivers.

The statistics say that traffic crashes nationwide are the leading cause of death for teenagers 16 to 19.

Between now and Labor Day, there’s a 30% spike in deaths involving teenagers.

That’s why AAA wants to get the word out now to parents to teach their kids to ignore distractions when they go to their destinations.

Avery Edenhofer, a driver, sees those distractions all too often.

“When I first got my permit, I didn’t care,” Edenhofer said. “I would be doing everything dumb you could be; it’d be drinking a soda in this hand, texting in this hand. Now, when I look at it, I freak out.”

He freaks out because he knows the damage it could cause. He wants his younger family members, like Luciana, 9, to do better when he finally gets behind the wheel.

“I am going to watch out for a car, so I won’t get in a car crash with my family,” she said. “There is a lot of people getting in car crashes around.”

And what will she do with her phone?

“I’m going to set it down. I gotta focus on the road,” Luciana said.

Alex Hemerson, 19 years old, is a self-proclaimed good driver.

“The Florida State of Motor Vehicles, they release a handbook,” Hemerson said. “You can look at it on the DMV’s or the office, website.”

Newer drivers, like teenagers, have a lot to learn while being in the midst of lots of distractions, like friends, phones and music.

It can be hard to ignore every distraction, but future driver Noelle is prepared for when she does drive.

“I’m gonna drive safely,” Noelle said. “I’m gonna put my phone down. And when someone texts me, I’m not gonna answer it.”

It all comes at once, but that’s why Hemerson said he drives the way he drives.

“Allowing the safe distance, following distance, using your blinker, not speeding,” Hemerson said.

AAA says the most important thing for teenagers to see is a good driving role model, and teaching them those defensive driving skills if they don’t read the handbook like Alex.

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