(WICHITA, Kan.) — May 20th is the deadliest day for teen drivers around the country as they hit the road to finish finals and roll into graduation celebrations.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that data over the past five years shows 63% more young drivers die on May 20 than any other day. Safety officials speculate that the increased number of teen deaths is a result of a combination of factors including students driving while stressed out and distracted from finals and graduation celebrations involving alcohol.
Kansas is not immune from teen deaths but a spokesperson from the Kansas Department of Transportation says that they don’t keep records comparing May 20th from year to year, they compare months throughout the year.
According to the most recent data available in 2008, October saw the most fatalities on Kansas roads with 11.2% of the year’s deaths, compared to 9.1% in May.
Kansas also recently passed new laws that change how and when teens can get access to driver’s licenses. Current law now requires drivers under 17 to have a learner’s permit for a full year before getting an unrestricted license.
The new laws also limits use of wireless devices like cell phones for drivers with restricted licenses in addition to regulating where and with whom teen drivers can travel. The new laws took effect January 1, 2010, and their impact is yet to be seen but safety officials expect they will curb teen accidents on the road.
Pete Bodyk from the Kansas Department of Transportation says that parents can teach good driving practices by accompanying their young drivers on the road.
“The best thing that makes kids better drivers is supervised experience on the road,” says Bodyk.
He says it is important to remind high school students that it is illegal for them to consume alcohol and they should be careful about getting into a car with others who have been drinking.