Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

July 4th weekend is the most deadly for new drivers

Posted by lapearce on July 3, 2009

The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day is the most deadly time for new drivers. Near the center of these 100 days falls the deadliest weekend for new drivers: Forth of July. Parties, teens being out late, and an inability to drive correctly around drunk drivers are hazards that kill on this holiday.

Driving later is one of the main reasons why summer is dangerous for new drivers. Without needing to be in class in the morning, teens are able to stay out later. New drivers struggle with the challenges of night driving, increasing their crash risk. Celebrating the holiday with friends can also mean passengers or driving to places they are unfamiliar with. These two circumstances on their own increase crash risk, together, the risk is even greater.

But these circumstances exist for many new drivers all summer, or all year long. It takes some rules from parents and talking before your teen goes out to help remove these risks. In this conversation, however, you should also cover what your teen should do if they see a drunk driver and how to make sure they aren’t one, or with one, this weekend.

Even though a lot of teens think they know what the signs are that a driver is too drunk to drive, a NHTSA survey on dangerous driving found that few of them could list what those signs were. This ignorance to the problem could lead to them driving when inebriated, or allowing their friends to do so. It can also mean that they make poor decisions when they see drunk drivers on the road. Because drunk drivers go slow, and may have trouble holding a lane, many times teens will become impatient and pass the drunk. This gives the drunk driver a target. They will see that they are going slow and speed up while fixing their eyes on the car that passed them, they may even tailgate the car while trying to emulate what the other driver does to reduce their chances of being pulled over. Now that car is a target and can easily be hit by the impaired driver.

Here are some tips for all drivers as they hit the roads this holiday weekend:

Signs of a drunk driver:

  • Straddling the center or outside line in their lane
  • Weaving or failing to stay in their lane
  • Taking wide turns
  • Driving on the shoulder
  • Driving slow
  • Repetitive hitting of the brakes
  • Tailgating
  • Driving without headlights
  • Sgnaling incorrectly (left for right, right for left) or leaving their signal on
  • Stopping at green lights

What to do if you see a drunk driver:

  • Stay far behind the drunk driver where they can not see you
  • Expect them to do unexpected things (ie stop on the road)
  • If you aren’t already wearing your seatbelt put it on for added safety
  • Record their license plate number (if possible) and call 911. If you have a passenger have them do this so you can focus on driving. If you cannot get the license plate still call the driver in.
  • If you can, leave the road the driver is on and take an alternate route

Signs that you or your friends are too drunk to drive:

  • Drinking more than one drink an hour
  • Slurred speech
  • Speech or stories that do not make sense
  • Constantly losing train of thought
  • Inability to walk a straight line
  • Slow response time when responding to a question
  • IF THEY HAVE BEEN DRINKING AT ALL!!! It is ILLEGAL in all states to drive with any alcohol in your system if you are a minor. Coffee, Redbull, a shower, bread, water, all of these things will NOT remove alcohol from your system! If you or your friends consume any alcohol then do not drive until it is out of your system. Rule of thumb: one hour per shot/beer/glass of wine. I highly recommend padding this with more time to be safe.

This weekend the danger of drunk drivers starts earlier than most. People who have been drinking all day may attempt to drive to firework shows, meaning there can be drunks on the road while it is still light out. There is also a high number of drunks after firework shows as they attempt to drive home.

And finally, talk to your teen about drinking this weekend. If you are a teen,  make sure you have a designated driver (someone how hasn’t had ANYTHING to drink) or arrange to stay at someone’s house. If you absolutley need to get home but you have been drinking, call your parents. They may be upset at you, but they’ll be happy that you did the right thing and didn’t put your life at risk on the road.

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