Authorities warn of summer spike in teen driving accidents


DAYTON, Ohio (AP) — Law enforcement and AAA are warning of a summer spike in teen driving accidents with the end of the school year.

The risk for fatal teen crashes increases by 17% between Memorial Day and Labor Day, according to the Dayton Daily News.

AAA officials say about six in 10 crashes involving young drivers result from distractions.

Distractions include sending and reading emails and texts on cellphones. Passengers also can be distractions.

Driving school officials recommend storing phones out of reach while driving and some urge parents to enforce a no-passenger rule for at least six months.

Summer also may be more deadly for young drivers on the road because more get their license in the summer, said Sharon Fife, owner of Kettering-based D&D Driving School.

“It’s the busiest time for driver’s education,” Fife said.

Teens also are driving “with less intention in the summer,” said Kara Hitchens, AAA spokeswoman.

“They aren’t driving to school or to work as much,” Hitchens said. “They have more free time and may drive more recklessly.”

Mike Belcuore, AAA driving school manager, said in a news release that teens should practice safety during every trip.

Minding the speed limit and staying away from impairing substances like alcohol and marijuana will help prevent many crashes from ever occurring, he said.

Teens make up about 5% of Ohio drivers, but were involved in more than 15% of crashes between 2014 and 2016.

Over the last five years, 15- to 17-year-old drivers have been at fault in more than 67,000 crashes in Ohio. Of those 150 were fatal and 1,451 included a serious injury, according to a Dayton Daily News investigation of State Highway Patrol data.

Patrol Sgt. Chris Colbert has said “we owe it to teens to make sure they’re as equipped as possible.”

State lawmakers in Ohio are considering requiring teen drivers to hold their learner’s permit for a year, rather than six months, to provide them with more experience before getting their license.

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