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100 Deadliest Days: Teen Driving

The sunny summer days from Memorial Day to Labor Day can be a lot of fun for kids, but they are also the most dangerous. We asked Sam Smith, MD, surgeon in chief at Arkansas Children’s to talk about what has been called the ‘100 Deadliest Days of Summer.’

Dr. Smith said he always sees a spike in injuries in the Emergency Department during the summer. He said the increase in injuries is partly caused by the fact that kids are out of school and they spend their free time exploring, which sometimes leads to unsafe situations.

One particular dangerous situation is teen driving. Dr. Smith said once school lets out, teens are more likely to drive for fun, rather than for a purpose like going to school or taking a sibling to practice.

Teen Driving Facts and Tips:

  • Teens are involved in 3Xs as many fatal crashes as all other drivers.
  • One passenger increases the risk of crash by 40%, two passengers double that risk and three passengers quadruple the risk!
  • Compared to a 16 year old, a 14 year old is 28% more likely to crash. Compared to a 16 year old, a 15 year old is 15% more likely to crash.
  • Teen drivers ages 14-17 are restricted from using cell phones except for emergency purposes. Texting and driving is illegal for all drivers!

Tips for Parents: Ask your young driver to sign a parent-teen agreement that establishes guidelines and expectations.

Plus, the longer you wait to let your teen drive the better – several factors at play here: physical growth and development, mental growth and development, emotional growth and development, maturity, etc. 


Have a fun and safe summer! For more safety tips, visit

About The Author: 
Sam Smith, MD, is surgeon in chief at Arkansas Children's and a professor of Surgery at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences.


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