Monday's arrival of Memorial Day brought with it the unofficial start to the summer season. But to the AAA of Western and Central New York, it also means the start of a season they call the 100 Deadliest Days.
They are called the 100 Deadliest Days because they represent the most dangerous days for teen drivers.
"Teen fatal crashes are up 17 percent in the past five years," said Elizabeth Carey, AAA of Western and Central New York spokesperson. "3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 Deadliest Days. It's a time when people really need to use extra caution on the roads."
The leading factors, according to AAA research, are speeding, driving while intoxicated and distractions such as smartphones. Carey says many times, it's other teens within the vehicle who cause the distraction. In a few cases, teen driver inexperience may play a role, such as in a situation when another nearby driver is operating a vehicle aggressively and the young driver does not react properly.
One of the best ways to lower the chances of a crash, Carey suggests, is to put the potential distracting devices out of reach.
"We tell them to put the phones, put the backpacks right in the trunk of the car where you can't even get your hands on it," she said. "That way you're not tempted to reach for it."
Driver education courses are available in Western New York, including in-vehicle and classroom settings provided by AAA. Carey suggests parents let a third party teach their children to drive.
Among the reasons, it takes away the emotional factor.
"I'm a mom and I know what it's like. Sometimes, the kids don't want to listen to you," she said. "They think they know it all when they get to a certain age. Sometimes parents need to say 'let's just have an outside instructor take care of this for us.'"
The parents can then take over and be the role models, taking what the instructor taught and continuing to educate their kids, Carey added.