The deadliest days of summer have arrived

The three summer months after school gets out have earned a sobering nickname: The 100 deadliest days of the year.

How did summer get this reputation? Isn't it supposed to be a laid-back, carefree time of family fun? The kids get out of school, parents take vacations and families embrace the beautiful weather and freedom in their schedules.

The return of teenage drivers

The underlying problem is the same: The kids get out of school. Many of those kids are teenagers, and they're back out of the classroom and on the road. Some of them work, but not all, and even those who do often have part-time jobs. Overall, they have a lot of freedom and that means they head for the streets with their fresh new drivers' licenses. For many of them, this will be their first summer behind the wheel.

High crash rates

Unfortunately, thanks to their inexperience and numerous other factors -- such as distracted driving -- teens are the age group with the highest crash rate in the nation. In addition, a striking number of these crashes turn fatal. Nothing takes more teen lives every year than auto accidents. Some reports indicate that around 260 young people die in motor vehicle accidents every month, all summer long. That's a full 26 percent higher than the fatality rates for the rest of the year.

That increase is due in large part to teenagers simply driving more often. They always have high crash rates and high fatality rates. When you put more of them on the road for more hours and more miles, that's going to lead to an increase in accidents, injuries and deaths.

Distraction and accidents

As noted above, one of the most common reasons for teen accidents is distracted driving, but it may even be more common than you realized. Studies have shown that a full 60 percent of wrecks involving teens happen because of distraction.

As you may have guessed, texting and driving plays a big role, but not all studies show that it's the top distraction. For instance, one report attributed talking and texting to 12 percent of accidents, while it claimed that distraction from other passengers caused 15 percent of those accidents.

In that light, it may be more dangerous for teens to have their friends in the car than their cellphones. The summer months certainly lead to a lot of carpooling and riding around with friends, especially when younger teens can't legally drive, so that's part of the reason for the increase in fatal wrecks.

After a crash

If you get hit by a distracted teen driver this summer, make sure you know what steps to take after the crash.

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