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On the Fourth of July, we celebrate with some of the best things in life: fireworks, hotdogs and the day off. But while Independence Day might be a good time for family bonding, there’s one thing it’s not ideal for: teen driving.
According to estimates from the National Safety Council, 565 people may be killed on the road during the 2019 Fourth of July holiday period, which runs Wednesday afternoon to Sunday night. In addition to these deaths, another 64,500 people may be seriously injured in crashes. These risks make the roads particularly dangerous for teens, who often lack the experience needed to navigate safely even in prime conditions.
Picture a typical Fourth of July celebration. Beyond fireworks and grills, there are bound to be:
Though summer road conditions can be helpful for new teen drivers – thanks to all that clear weather and extra daylight – this holiday period is a good example of when not to practice driving with your teen. The above combination of risk factors, from the many extra road users to the dark conditions, are likely to overwhelm inexperienced drivers and increase their crash risk.
Your teen will encounter this sort of scenario eventually, but it’s best to take it slow and introduce these types of hazards one at a time, and preferably in a safe environment. While your teen needs to gain experience driving at night, for example, the Fourth of July is the wrong time to practice. The added risk of impaired drivers makes this holiday especially dangerous; it has the highest percentage of fatalities involving an alcohol-impaired driver. Impaired drivers force us all to be especially defensive on the roads, something your teen may not have enough practice with yet.
So instead of having your teen do the driving, designate a sober adult driver or arrange alternative transportation to ensure everyone makes it back home safe. And keep this in mind anytime you prepare to go driving with your teen. You’ll have to decide whether the conditions are right to give your new driver the experience he or she needs, or whether they’re too risky and the lesson can wait.
DriveitHOME™ is an initiative of the National Safety Council, designed by and for parents of newly licensed teen drivers. DriveitHOME™ offers free resources parents can use to help their teen build experience to become safer drivers.
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