I have two teen boys and with July 4 just around the corner, it’s more important than ever that we educate our teens about safe driving practices, particularly during the 100 Deadliest Days for Teen Drivers. According to AAA, this period spans from Memorial Day through Labor Day.

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Arizona is the 15th worst state nationwide for the most dangerous teen drivers based on teens who drink and drive, who rarely wear a seat belt and who die on our roads, at a rate of 12.6 per 100K. In 2021, 33 Arizona teen drivers lost their lives in car crashes and 3.293 others suffered injuries, according to ADOT. 

There are some particularly risky behaviors that teens engage in on the roads and talking about them now, will help keep them safe and reduce the likelihood that your teen will engage in them. For example,

• The more teens in the car, the more dangerous. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the risk of fatality due to aggressive driving and speeding increases in direct relationship to the number of teens in the car. This is related to peer pressure. Other teens in the car are the biggest distraction for teen drivers.

• Distracted driving is particularly dangerous for teens. Texting and on-board infotainment systems are the second-biggest distraction for teen drivers. Unfortunately, six in ten teen crashes involve distracted driving.

• Speeding and not wearing a seatbelt. If your teen is buckled in, they are more likely to survive a crash and not to be killed. Speeding is a contributing factor in 30 percent fatal wrecks involving teens.

So, what can we do as parents to keep our teens safe on Arizona roads this July 4? We can follow the advice of AAA and use common sense.

• One thing we can do is establish a teen/parent driving agreement that sets some family rules about when our teens can be on the roads, how many other teens are in the car and where they can go. If they follow the rules, we can reward them and we can include consequences for breaking the rules. The important thing here is putting it in writing which will act as the biggest deterrent.

• We can also reinforce defensive driving skills for our teen drivers. Spend some time with your teen in the car ahead of July 4. It doesn’t have to be anything formal. As you are scanning the road for hazards, bring them up to your teen so they are reminded of dangers that should be on their radar.

• Set an example for your teen driver. You know your teen is watching you when you are the driver so make sure you are not engaging in risky behavior. Make sure you are not driving aggressively, running yellow lights, speeding or not wearing your seatbelt.

I have had too many cases involving serious and deadly consequences resulting from risky teen behavior on our roads. These actions were avoidable and the results are life changing for the teen driver as well as all of those in the cars involved. Please keep your teens safe this July 4th by talking to them before they take the keys.

Author: Marc Lamber is a Martindale Hubbell AV Preeminent-rated trial attorney. A director at Fennemore, Lamber has been featured in national and local media, including the Arizona RepublicUSA Today, ABC News, The Wall Street JournalForbes, the ABA Journal and many others.