This is a message from Wendy Tepfer, director of the Bellmore-Merrick Community Parent Center.
Summer is usually an exciting time for teens to enjoy a carefree break from the stress and pressure of school. It's the season for celebrations — proms, graduations and summer vacations. For teenage drivers, it's usually the perfect time to get into the car and have some fun!
However, it is that way of thinking that makes these next 100 days so dangerous for teens every year, and especially this year.
We are living through an extremely scary and unsettling time, faced with making hard, but necessary, choices to ensure the health and safety of our families. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed our lives in many ways, and we will all have to adjust to the "new normal" as we move forward.
Sadly, one thing that has not changed is that motor vehicle crashes are still the leading cause of death and injury for teens.
New York State schools are officially closed for the remainder of the academic year due to the crisis, and teens have been at home, learning remotely and social distancing for over two months. Therefore, many more teen drivers will be tempted to get out on the roads.
With more teens driving, parents need to remember that Memorial Day marks the start of the "100 Deadliest Days" for teen drivers. The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are historically among the deadliest for teen drivers; a time when the number of teen driving-related injuries and deaths increase dramatically.
In 2019, the average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers was approximately 17 percent higher per day compared with other days of the year, a sobering statistic. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration attributes the higher crash rates for teens to having more free time, less adult supervision and more opportunities to drive at night with their friends.
Parents can play a vital role in reducing the risk of a teen car crash by taking advantage of the extra time they have at home, and speaking with their teens about driving safety. Parents should not take anything for granted, make no assumptions, and expect the unexpected when it comes to their teens’ driving behaviors.
This is a crucial time for education, awareness and smart decision making.
Keep your teen driver safe by:
Parents are the most important influence on their teen when it comes to risky behaviors and driving. Be a positive role model for your teen driver. It’s hard to convince your teen driver to engage in safe driving practices, like wearing a seat belt, obeying the speed limit or turning off the cell phone, if you are not also demonstrating these behaviors.
Please continue to practice social distancing to keep your family healthy and safe during the COVID -19 crisis, and help keep your teen driver safe on the roads by following the suggestions offered.
Be well and stay safe.
— Compiled by Andrew Garcia