Putting the brakes on the ‘Hundred Deadliest Days’ for teenagers

Western New York

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — They are called the “100 Deadliest Days” for teenagers — from Memorial Day to Labor Day. But safety officials want to make this “The Safest Summer Ever,” even though the surge has yet another spike surrounding the July 4 holiday weekend coming up in two weeks.

Traffic safety officials suspect it is teenagers’ overconfidence in their ability to multi-task, leading to distractions such as talking and texting on their cellphones, grooming and engaging in conversation with friends.

“Keep your focus on the road ahead of you, your hands on the wheel, your mind has to be on driving. That is not something that you can multi-task,” said David Reich of the National Road Safety Foundation.

Hitting the road? | Live Traffic Map

David Reich told us the National Road Safety Foundation is joining forces with S.A.D.D., Students Against Destructive Decisions, to reach out to teenagers and parents to drive responsibly. Reich says young drivers tend to model the driving habits of their parents.

“Blow through a stop sign, or we are texting while we are behind the wheel, or we are just doing other things, and speeding, other dangerous behavior. They figure hey, if mom or dad can do it, I guess I can when I am driving,” Reich said.

There is an added peril drivers are facing this summer with the lifting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions some drivers might feel like celebrating their newly restored freedom. The highest number of highway fatalities in 13 years last summer could be an omen.

Students Against Destructive Decisions will use social media to reach its 10,000 chapters across the country with important messages.

“We all — young people and adults — we all have to be careful when we are on the road. Use common sense, be careful, be courteous, always wear a seatbelt,” added Reich.

State Health Department figures show the leading cause of unintentional deaths and hospitalizations for 16 and 17-year-olds is car accidents.

You can find a link to the National Road Safety Foundation, here.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here.

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