The dog days of summer are under way and Arizona teen drivers are likely taking advantage of this temporary freedom by enjoying more time behind the wheel. However, before turning over the keys, parents should know that summer is the deadliest time for teens on the road.

According to AAA’s Summer Crash Analysis, nationwide, nearly 6,700 teen drivers and passengers ages 13-19 died in traffic crashes between the Memorial Day and Labor Day holidays between 2006-2010. An average of 399 teens died in traffic crashes during each of the summer months (May-August), compared to a monthly average of 346 teen deaths during non-summer months during this five year period.

To keep teens safe this summer, there are a few rules of the road families should review and follow:

• Eliminate trips without purpose. Teens have three times as many fatal crashes as all other drivers, and a teen’s crash risk is highest during the first year of solo driving. Limit teens’ driving to essential trips and only with parental permission for at least the first year of driving.

• Limit passengers. Crash rates increase with each teen passenger in the vehicle. In fact, fatal crash rates for 16- to 19-year-olds increase fivefold when two or more teen passengers are in the car. Limit the number of teen passengers to no more than one if a teen is behind the wheel.

• Restrict night driving. A teen driver’s chances of being involved in a deadly crash doubles at night. Many parents limit driving during the highest-risk late night hours, yet they should consider limiting evening driving as well, as more than half of nighttime crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight.

• Establish a parent-teen driving agreement. Written agreements help set and enforce clear rules about night driving, passengers, access to the car, and more.

• Enroll teens in summer driving school. Summer offers the perfect opportunity for teens to brush up on their driving skills.

• Use driving training tools. Enhance your teen’s driving, critical thinking and decision-making skills with driver training resources.

• Be there. Make sure your teen knows that if they need help, advice or a ride, they can call you at any time. Extend this offer often and let your teen know that you are always available, and that they will not be judged or punished should they need your help.

To learn more on how to keep your teen driver safe year-round, visit teendriving.aaa.com/AZ.

• Linda Gorman is communications and public affairs director for AAA Arizona. Reach her at (602) 650-2716 or lgorman@arizona.aaa.com.

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