Parents Can Make a Difference Ahead of 100 Deadliest Days

Billy Johnson of the Johnson Law Firm says that reminding young drivers of the dangers they will face in the coming months could make Kentucky’s roads safer.

Pikeville, Kentucky, May 15, 2018 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Every year, from Memorial Day through Labor Day, the number of fatal teen driver crashes jumps 15 percent, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The organization calls this period the “100 Deadliest Days,” because this is when teens are out of school and out on the road.  The nickname captures how terrifying this period should be for young drivers, said Kentucky attorney Billy Johnson.


“The bad news is that this increase is a reality that young drivers must confront,” Johnson said. “But the good news is that knowing it exists and taking the appropriate measures can reduce a teen’s chances of being involved in a crash.”


Johnson said his background gives him a unique appreciation for the risks associated with the 100 Deadliest Days. After graduating from high school, Johnson opened a drug- and alcohol-testing business, which supported him financially throughout college and law school.


He opened his law firm in 1998 and, for the last 20 years, has witnessed how devastating injuries in vehicle crashes can be.


“A crash-related injury can set a person back for years and, in some cases, a lifetime,” Johnson said. “Younger drivers are at a greater risk for a crash than older drivers, largely because they lack the experience.”


Drivers ages 16 to 17 are three times more likely than adult drivers to be involved in a fatal crash, according to AAA.


“Parents will be concerned when they hear these things,” Johnson said. “They also have to come to terms with the fact that their young drivers won’t get experience until they spend more time behind the wheel. That experience has to be accompanied by an awareness of the risks they’re facing.”


Johnson said parents can start by emphasizing the importance of three elements of safe driving - seatbelts, safe speeds and focus. He said that research indicates distractions include not only mobile devices, but also extra passengers.


“Teens should avoid taking on extra passengers until they have more experience,” Johnson said. “Passengers can take a driver’s mind off the road. That can be just as dangerous as a smartphone.”


Observing the speed limit, wearing a seatbelt and avoiding distractions are part of a safe, disciplined driver’s habits, Johnson said. Parents play a key role in establishing them in their teen driver’s mindset.


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