6 Summer Safety Tips for the 100 Deadliest Days


Can you believe school is already out (or will be soon) for most North Carolina teenagers? Your kids are certainly ready for the break — and they’re busy celebrating their freedom from homework and planning summer fun. Meanwhile, you’re probably wondering how to keep them safe and out of trouble during the 100 deadliest days of the year. We have some summer safety tips that will help!

What are the 100 deadliest days?

This is the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when statistics reveal an increase in traffic accidents, injuries, and fatalities among teenage and young adult drivers. The phrase “100 deadliest days” was coined by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety to draw attention to this disturbing uptick in the number of automobile accidents and to encourage teens to drive safely.

What makes these days so dangerous?

The simple answer is that most high school and college students are out of school for the summer and have more unsupervised time on their hands — and more opportunities to get into risky situations. But to really understand the spike in traffic accidents, we have to consider several factors:

  • Young people drive more during the summer. Whether they’re heading to work, going shopping, meeting friends for lunch, taking a road trip to the beach, or simply cruising around town, teens tend to spend more time behind the wheel during this time of year.
  • There’s more traffic in general. Many families take vacations while their kids are home from school, and that means more cars on the road, especially on weekends and holidays. Even the most experienced drivers can have difficulty navigating traffic congestion, but teenagers are still developing their skills behind the wheel. Inexperience may cause them to misjudge the distance between cars, get distracted by something happening on the side of the road, or respond too slowly to unexpected situations.
  • Teens have increased exposure to alcohol or other substances. For some people, summertime means party time. Barbeques, pool parties, and other social gatherings are in full swing, and it’s not unusual to find alcohol at these gatherings. When teens drink and get behind the wheel, they endanger themselves, their passengers, and everyone else on the road.

What can teens do to stay safe?

Teens need to understand the increased risk of accidents this time of year and remember some simple steps they can take to protect themselves and their passengers. These aren’t just summer safety tips; they’re proactive measures to use all year!

  1. Never Drive Under the Influence: This includes alcohol and drugs. If you’re a teen, drinking even a small amount of alcohol before driving still means you’re breaking the law – North Carolina has a zero-tolerance policy for minors who drink and drive, and underage drinking charges are strictly enforced.
  2. Plan Ahead: Whenever possible, teens should choose familiar routes, avoid driving in severe weather, and limit nighttime driving.
  3. Buckle Up: Seat belts save lives and prevent serious injury in the event of a crash. Teens must make a habit of buckling up every time they get into a car, whether they’re the driver or the passenger.
  4. Avoid Distractions: Encourage your child to focus solely on driving. That means they shouldn’t change their music constantly, check texts, put on makeup, eat snacks, or do anything else that takes their eyes or concentration off the road. As a reminder, North Carolina law prohibits people under the age of 18 from using any function on a mobile phone while driving.
  5. Follow Traffic Laws: Speed limits, traffic signals, and stop signs are there for a reason. Teens must understand the importance of obeying traffic laws and avoid the urge to drive recklessly.
  6. Allow Fewer Passengers: Having multiple friends in the car can be a distraction for inexperienced drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car.”

How can parents encourage summer safety for teens?

As a parent, you must ultimately trust your child to be a responsible driver (or passenger), but you also play a vital role in guiding them through this potentially dangerous time. Here are some ways you can support them:

  • Provide Information: Take the time to educate your child about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving. Share real-life stories and statistics. Make sure they understand state driving laws and the consequences of disobeying them. Summer safety tips are meaningless if your child doesn’t appreciate the gravity of making bad choices behind the wheel.
  • Set Clear Expectations: Establish rules regarding driving behavior, underage drinking, curfews, and responsible decision-making. Outline consequences for unsafe behavior.
  • Lead By Example: Be a role model to your children and practice safe driving habits — avoid distractions, don’t text while driving, and don’t drink and drive.
  • Stay Involved: Be an active participant in your teen’s life. Let them know you care by asking where they’re going, who they’ll be with, and what they’ll be doing. Maintain open communication so they feel comfortable coming to you with any questions or concerns they have.
  • Enforce Consequences: If your teen engages in unsafe driving behavior, be firm and consistent in following through with disciplinary measures. Whether you revoke driving privileges, set an earlier curfew, or withhold a weekly allowance, make it clear that safety is non-negotiable.
  • Use the X-Plan: Create a plan to help your teen safely remove themselves from sticky situations. They can text you a pre-arranged message and know that you’ll come to get them, no questions asked.

Start the Conversation

Summer is a wonderful time of year; everyone deserves to enjoy it! When you equip your teen with the knowledge, skills, and summer safety tips they need to navigate the 100 deadliest days, they can fully embrace their time out of school, and you can worry less about them doing so.

Take action today to help them become more responsible drivers, including avoiding underage drinking. Start the Conversation and set the tone for a more carefree summer for the whole family.