To the Editor:

Anyone with a teenager knows that COVID-19 restrictions and the curtailing of normal summer activities is making for a challenging summer. With uncertainty surrounding summer jobs, sports, camps and other activities that would normally consume their days, young drivers have more time on their hands and on the road. The potential for tragedy is real not only for teens, but those who share the road with them.

Nationwide, more than 8,300 people died in crashes involving teen drivers from 2008 to 2018 during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That’s more than seven people a day each summer. Our data analysis has found that for every mile driven, new teen drivers ages 16-17 years old are three times more likely to be involved in a deadly crash compared to adults.

Novice teen drivers will make mistakes in the roughly 5-year learning curve required to achieve safe driving competency. That’s why adding even one reckless behavior like speeding, drinking and/or taking drugs, or distractions from passengers or mobile devices can prove deadly in a split second.

Help teens survive the “100 Deadliest Days” by modeling safe driving behavior. Teach by example and have potentially life-saving conversations with your teens to set and enforce rules and discuss risks. The AAA Parent Coaching Guide 2020 is among the valuable resources available at TeenDriving.AAA.com.

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COVID-related challenges this summer multiply the need for safety. Understanding the risks can help South Dakota teens and their parents avoid devastating consequences.

Marilyn Buskohl Manager, Public and Government Affairs

AAA South Dakota

AAA Club Alliance Inc.