Teenage drivers are one of the greatest risks on American roadways, crashing four times more often than adult drivers. As the end of the school year approaches and summer activities increase for teens, so, too, does the crash risk during the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, deemed the “100 Deadliest Days.”
AAA seeks to reverse teen-driver crash trends through educational outreach in the communities we serve. By identifying and understanding the factors that contribute to teen-driver crashes, we develop strategies and programs that can help save lives. In fact, for more than 85 years, AAA has worked to help families encourage teens to become safer, more responsible drivers.
AAA: Leader in Teen-Driver Education and Safety
Beginning as early as 1934, when 25 million vehicles were on the roadways, AAA was involved in the origins of driver education. That’s when Amos Neyhart, AAA consultant, taught the first driver’s education class at State College High School in State College, Pennsylvania.
Fast-forward to 1997, when the number of vehicles on the roadways had skyrocketed to 211 million, more teens became licensed drivers, and it became evident that teen-driver laws needed enhancement to reduce teen-driver crashes and save lives. AAA led a nationwide effort to establish a graduated driver licensing (GDL) system to ensure that teens get the practice and guidance they need to become safe drivers.
By 2010, AAA took measures a step further with the launch of the Keys2Drive program at TeenDriving.AAA.com. Keys2Drive is an interactive teen-driver safety website that provides parents and teens with a full range of resources throughout the learning-to-drive process.
AAA: Teen Drivers in the Classroom and Behind the Wheel
Today, AAA driver education and instructional materials are used in AAA Driving Schools and commercial driving schools, including AAA Approved Driving Schools. AAA also provides driver education through a variety of online programs such as How to Drive Online and the StartSmart Online Parent Session (AAA.com/DriverTraining).
New Drivers and New Vehicles
As technology advances, teens are faced with a growing number of distractions behind the wheel, such as talking on a cell phone or, even worse, texting or using social media apps.
Parents and grandparents play a major role in keeping our roads safe by modeling good behaviors behind the wheel and in front of their teenage passengers. In preparation for the 100 Deadliest Days, AAA urges everyone with a teen in their lives to talk to them about the dangers of distracted driving.
This spring, AAA launched a public safety campaign—Don’t Drive Intexticated—to help reduce deaths and injuries resulting from cell-phone use by drivers. The campaign aims to help audiences understand that the consequences of using a cell phone while driving are the same as drinking and driving, thus making it clear that distracted driving is socially unacceptable and irresponsible.
AAA hopes that through this safety campaign and our tireless work with families, we can collectively make important behavioral impressions on teen drivers and keep them and all our loved ones safe on the road during the 100 Deadliest Days and all year long.
This article originally appeared in the May/June 2019 edition of AAA World.