Memorial Day weekend began the 100 deadliest days of summer, a stretch that runs through the end of Labor Day weekend and recognizes the significant rise in traffic incidents that can result in death. Many factors contribute to the increased number of deaths during this time period, especially for teens. These include a higher prevalence of drinking and driving, more vehicles on the roadway and parents being less strict with driving rules, according to the American Automobile Association.
The majority of these fatal driving incidents are preventable. It’s important during these summer months to talk to your teens about the increased dangers of summer driving. Now that the 100 deadliest days of summer have begun, it’s paramount to stress the importance of the safety tips below.
- Make sure everyone in the vehicle is wearing their seatbelts.
- Get adequate sleep and be sure to share driving responsibilities on long trips.
- Do not drive under the influence of any substance that may impair your ability to drive a motor vehicle. This not only includes alcohol and drugs, but stimulants with high concentrations of caffeine such as energy drinks.
- Never use a cell phone while driving. Even hands-free devices can become a cognitive distraction while driving.
- Drive the speed limit. Speeding is a factor in more than 1/3 of traffic fatalities involving young drivers.
- Maintain a minimum following distance of at least three seconds from the vehicle in front of you. Watch the vehicle ahead pass a fixed object. As the vehicle’s rear bumper passes the object, start counting: “One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three.” Your vehicle’s front bumper should not pass the fixed object until after you have finished counting.
In the Emergency Department at Greenville Memorial Hospital, clinicians have seen a 20 percent increase in trauma cases over the last five years, with more than 3,500 patients seen in 2017. The most common injuries are the result of motor vehicle crashes, falls and motorcycle accidents. Last year, almost half of all motor vehicle-related injuries involving teenagers ages 16 to 19 occurred during the 100 Deadly Days of Summer.
Summer should be a time of memory making and fun. Help your teen keep it that way by reinforcing the keys to safe operation of a motor vehicle.
Mike Walls, NRP, is Trauma Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator for Greenville Health System. Debra Kitchens, MBA, BSN, CEN, NRP-P, is Trauma Program Manager at Prisma Health. Greenville Memorial Hospital is a nationally verified Level I Adult Trauma Center and a Level II Pediatric Trauma Center (click here to learn more).