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Virginia Highway Safety Office News Releases

Friday, June 27, 2014
Media Contact: Sunni Brown
Department of Motor Vehicles
(804) 367-6834

Summer Brings Youth-Specific Dangers for Teens
Traffic Fatalities Increase; Underage Drinking a Risk

RICHMOND - While summer is a fun time for students to enjoy the freedom of being out of school, parents and teens should be aware of a number of youth-specific dangers, including traffic fatalities and underage drinking.

Teenagers have a greater chance of dying in cars during the summer than any other time throughout the year. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) Highway Safety Office, in the past five years (2009-2013), 30 percent (89 of 301) of teens ages 15 to 19 died in traffic crashes in Virginia during June, July and August.

Underage drinking is a risk for teens all year long, but particularly in the summer months when teens are often home alone or at summer gatherings where alcohol may be available.

"Teens have more time on their hands during the summer months," said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, Governor McAuliffe's Highway Safety Representative and acting Chief Operating Officer at the Virginia Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). "Young, inexperienced drivers face increased risks on the roads, especially from distracted driving and underage drinking. I encourage parents to talk with their children about these dangerous and potentially deadly actions."

DMV and ABC recommend parents always know where their teens are going in their vehicles. Parents need to talk to their children about potential dangers, such as attending parties where alcohol may be served.

"Summer should be a memorable time spent with friends and family," ABC Chairman Jeffrey L. Painter said. "In addition to communicating clearly on 'no alcohol' rules, parents should give children an unconditional option to call for help if they find themselves in a bad situation. Consequences are important but can be addressed later; providing a sober ride home is key to ensuring their safety."

Additional Tips for Parents

  • Remind young drivers about Virginia's teen driving restrictions.
    • Drivers under age 18 may carry only three passengers under 21. During the first year they hold their license, they can only carry one passenger under 21.
    • It is illegal for drivers under 18 to use any wireless telecommunications device, including cell phones, regardless of whether it is hand-held or not. Texting or emailing while driving is illegal for all drivers.
  • Discuss frequently expectations and rules with your children regarding alcohol.
    • It is illegal for anyone under the age of 21 to drink alcohol-and can result in loss of license.
    • It is illegal for anyone to purchase, aid and abet or give alcohol to minors.
    • Statistics show that the average age a child tries alcohol for the first time is 12 years old. Set a clear "no alcohol" rule and include serious consequences for breaking that rule.
  • Provide a fun and alcohol-free environment in your own home by hosting a party yourself.
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