TAMPA -- The end of Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of what's called the "100 deadliest days" of the year for teen drivers.
The period from Memorial Day to Labor Day usually sees teenage traffic fatalities rise more than 20 percent. Experts say an average of seven fatalities a day happen during the 100-day stretch of summer. More than 30 percent of teen traffic deaths occur during the 100 deadliest days.
Mark Jenkins with AAA Auto Club Group in Tampa has some tips for parents whose teens are reaching driving age. One is to set a good example when they're in the car with you. "If you're using your phone while behind the wheel, if you're eating or drinking (while driving), all these different things that you do, chances are they're going to think it's OK if they do it too."
Another is to spend at least 50 hours riding with teens as they get behind the wheel for practice driving. That doesn't just mean having them drive in circles around the proverbial empty parking lot. Jenkins says you need to put them through a variety of traffic and weather conditions.
Inexperience and peer pressure lead to driving behaviors such as speeding and tailgating. Distraction is a major factor. Even though this generation of teens has grown up on their phones, that's only the number two cause of distraction. Number one, according to Jenkins, is other passengers.
Florida has had graduated driver license laws since the Nineties. Those restrict privileges for teens under 18, in terms of how many passengers they may carry and which hours they can drive. Jenkins says parents should buttress those laws by having their own contracts with their teens, in terms of the rules of the road and consequences for breaking them.
Listen to an interview with Mark Jenkins below: