The summer is supposed to be a lot of fun for families, but the grim reality is that this is the deadliest period for teen drivers.
Memorial Day is typically the start of the 100 deadliest days of the year for young drivers, says AAA. New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows teen drivers aged 16 to 17 are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash.
The 911 Driving School in Marysville is owned and operated by law enforcement officers and emergency responders. They teach teens the basics like parallel parking, but they also give them safety tips that can last long into adulthood.
"All the instructors are police officers, firefighters, EMTs, or emergency responders," said Peter Barrett of the 911 Driving School. "That's really what sets us apart and makes us different because we're the one who's showing up on the scenes of these fatal collisions, and often times we are the ones who are making that notification to parents that there's been a fatality or serious injury. If we can get in front of people and educate them prior to that happening, we're going to make a difference."
Distractions are a big issue for teen drivers, but surprisingly, texting and driving is not the main concern. According to the group We Save Lives, teens driving with other teen passengers is the most alarming distraction.
Katie Phillips is a 16-year-old Arlington High School student, and she just got her license a few months ago with the help of the 911 Driving School. She says she knows what to do to be a good driver, but she realizes teens are easily distracted on the roads.
"Some really big things are music and having friends in the car," said Phillips. "Friends are a really important thing like everyone wants to drive with their friends. But your friends often do stupid things to distract you. Texting and driving is really big with teenagers because we love our smartphones, and they are just our little babies."
Phillips says she just got the restriction lifted to have peers in the car with her and says she doesn't want to lose that privilege. Washington teen drivers have other driving restrictions, including what time of day they can be out on the roads.
The “100 Deadliest Days” period is between Memorial Day and Labor Day when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year, according to AAA. During the past five years, more than 1,600 people were killed in crashes involving inexperienced teen drivers.