Five teens got into a car. Two were sisters, a year apart and both dancers. Their friend danced on the same team. Another teen loved soccer. Another was a wrestler.
And after a single-car crash on a six-lane street Tuesday in Orange County, they all passed away. It’s an ominous beginning to an annual period that now seems even more aptly named: “The 100 Deadly Days of Summer.”
The span between the recent Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend in September is marked by traffic safety advocates and authorities as especially dangerous, with out-of-school youngsters, vacationing parents, and daily commuters all on more crowded roadways across the U.S.
New York parents are urged to sign a seasonlong contract with their teen driver to manage their habits behind the wheel. In Georgia, drivers are warned against speeding and alcohol use that increases in the summertime. In the next state over, South Carolina authorities are similarly prepping themselves, even though last year saw the lowest fatality count for this period in three years.
“We’re encouraging motorists to wear their seat belt, follow and obey the speed law, and refrain from drinking and driving,” Lt. Kelly Hughes with the State Highway Patrol told a local news station.
Even coach Steve Spurrier is sounding a call for safe summer driving.
So here is the latest on traffic safety news, all of which cover topics you’ll want to know while those hot wheels are spinning in the summertime sun.
Keep Safe, Young Drivers
With the last of proms ending and graduation around the corner, safety lessons over the “100 Days” are often aimed at teen drivers.
The National Safety Council (NSC) kicked off several campaigns this month geared toward teen drivers, addressing the fact that half of all teens will be in a car accident before they’ve graduated high school, NSC president Janet Froetscher said in a statement.
But it’s not just teens that need to heed traffic safety during this especially dangerous time. Move up the age bracket a little, and you’ll see that drivers younger than 26 years old cause the most traffic deaths in the U.S. The NY Times compiled this graphic showing that younger drivers in that age group could benefit the most from the lower legal alcohol limit recently proposed by federal officials.
Hawaii to Texting Drivers: Aloha
Note: Aloha means both goodbye and hello. So Aloha — goodbye — is exactly what Hawaiians said to texting while driving, with Gov. Neil Abercrombie signing off on legislation that bars drivers from texting behind the wheel.
Florida’s governor did the same on Tuesday as traffic safety officials are applauding the first two states to pass anti-texting legislation this year. Legislation combating the problem, officials say, are gaining popularity among drivers who are acknowledging the dangers of distracted driving.
There are now 41 states that prohibit texting while driving.
“It is time for legislators in the remaining states to act on this important safety issue,” Kathleen Bower, vice president of public affairs for AAA, said in a statement. The traffic safety group also said it is pleased with the progress of its push to pass texting bans in all states, a campaign that began in 2009.
“[There is] widespread support for these important laws to ban behaviors that endanger everyone on our roads,” she said, as AAA cheered Hawaii’s move.
Hawaii’s ban will go into effect in time for summer, on July 1; Florida’s prohibition goes into effect in October.
But it’s not just texting that lawmakers are targeting, with distracted driving covering a range of device uses beyond typing on a phone. Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn is mulling a statewide law that would bar hand-held cellphone use while driving. But traffic safety officials still say hands-free law might not do much to address distracted driving, which can still be very prevalent when using hands-free devices.
Campaign Pushes Drivers to Buckle Up
The “100 Days” annual kickoff coincides with the beginning of another well-known safety campaign: “Click It or Ticket.” During the crackdown on seat belt disuse this year, which began in late May and runs through the beginning of June, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says it will put special emphasis on nighttime drivers.
So that means you better be buckled up for any summer-night cruising.