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Memorial Day begins the '100 deadliest days' of the year for teens

Posted at 3:00 AM, May 29, 2017

Memorial Day kicks off the summer for things like cookouts, pool parties and bonfires, but it's not all fun and games. It can also be the most dangerous time of the year.

Today, millions of Americans are probably going to spend a big part of their day in their cars, bouncing around to cookouts and parties, but will they get there safely?

Police are going to be extra vigilant starting today, as it begins what's known as the 100 deadliest days of the year.

Serious statistics (Source: AAA):

Over the past five years during the “100 Deadliest Days:

  • An average of 1,022 people died each year in crashes involving teen drivers
  • The average number of deaths from crashes involving teen drivers ages 16-19 increased by 16 percent per day compared to other days of the year

Working with researchers at the University of Iowa, the AAA Foundation analyzed the moments leading up to a crash in more than 2,200 videos of teen drivers captured from in-car dash cameras.

The latest report compared new crash videos with those captured from 2007-2012 and found consistent trends in the top three distractions for teens when behind the wheel in the moments leading up to a crash:

  • Talking or attending to other passengers in the vehicle: 15 percent of crashes
  • Talking, texting or operating a cell phone: 12 percent of crashes
  • Attending to or looking at something inside the vehicle: 11 percent of crashes

Driving distractions

If you remember the scene from the 1995 flick "Clueless," Dee is learning to drive and gets freaked out when she accidentally finds herself merging onto the freeway. Distracted, she almost gets in multiple accidents.

While that may have been made in the 1990's, the point is still the same: drivers can get dangerously distracted.

“So I'm like a little nervous about that. I mean, I'm going to try my best to not be distracted, not text and drive but I know other people are going to be doing it and there's nothing I can do about that,” Haely Charvad, a student at Magnificat High School in Rocky River, said.

She will take her driver’s test this week and says learning to drive has been hard enough without the temptation of picking up her cell phone.

“I always put my phone in the back or I put it in the glove department because I just don't want to be distracted because if my phone lights up I'm going to be like 'ohh,'" she said.

Dangers not only digital

And it's not just cell phones, experts say friends in a car can also be a deadly distraction. Robert Adamich, Haely's driving instructor at 911 Driving School in Rocky River, says paying attention is emphasized as soon as teens get their permits.

“We talk about it in the classroom, you know you're in control of the car, the car is technically a weapon, somebody can be killed by your driving," he said.

And in the summer, it's even worse.

“Everybody’s getting out of school now. Tey've got free time all over the place, kids want to go out and have a good time, they want to go with their friends, they may be talking on the telephone," Adamich said.

The months between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most dangerous of the year for teenagers when they get behind the wheel.

“You have to pay attention to what's going on and anything can happen in an instant, your life can change in a second," Adamich said.