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ST. LOUIS – As school lets out for the summer and travel picks back up again, experts are reminding drivers to be cautious on the roadways.

The 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are considered the “100 Deadliest Days.” According to AAA, there are more crash deaths involving teen drivers during the summer months.

“Historically, it’s one of the deadliest time periods for teen drivers in the US,” AAA spokesperson Nick Chabarria said.

Data from AAA shows that more than 7,000 people die in summertime teen driving-related crashes between 2010 and 2019; 701 of those fatalities were in Missouri and 766 in Illinois. That equals out to about seven people dying per day during the ‘100 Deadliest Days’ compared to the rest of the year, when about six people die per day.

Chabarria said the top three concerns for teen drivers are distractions with friends or cell phones, not buckling up and speeding.

“Nearly a third of all fatal teen automobile crashes occur during summer months when younger drivers tend to have more unstructured time behind the wheel,” Chabarria said. “Parents should encourage teens to double down on staying focused when driving, buckling up for every ride, and driving within posted speed limits.”

“If you’re texting, if you spend three seconds with your eyes off the road, travelling at 55 mph, you have passed the length of the football field,” Dean Dothage, director of First Impact, a program of ThinkFirst Missouri, said.

ThinkFirst Missouri and First Impact are traffic safety programs that assist in educating parents and teens on safe driving and are working to prevent traffic crash fatalities. They are hosting a virtual Zoom information presentation on Monday with St. Louis leaders. The presentation is a “free 90-minute evidence-based traffic safety program that educates parents about Missouri’s Graduate Driver License Law,” their website says. It geared toward parents of teen drivers, teen drivers, and soon-to-be drivers.

“We don’t want our police officers knocking on your parents door,” Dothage said. “the worst part of the job that they ever have is going to a home and knocking on the door to tell a parent their teen is not going to come home ever because they were killed in a traffic accident.”

This cause hits close to home for Dothage, who lost her dad in a car crash on June 3, 1973, when he was hit by an impaired driver. But that’s not the only reason her passion for this cause is so strong.

“That was the first crash that occurred in my immediate family and one year later, my 19-year-old brother died in a one-car crash and he was not belted so he didn’t survive,” she said.

She doesn’t want any other family to go through this.

“Wear their seat belts, don’t drive distracted, don’t text, don’t speed,” she said.

Teen Driving-Related Crash Fatalities by State

StateDeaths in Crashes Involving Teen Drivers During 100 Deadliest Days, 2010-2019Deaths in Crashes Involving Teen Drivers Total, 2010-2019Per Capita Deaths in Crashes Involving Teen Drivers, 2019Per Capita Rank, 2019
(50 States and DC)
Table and data provided from AAA.