‘100 deadliest days’ for teenage drivers begins

Teen distracted driving (KXAN file photo)
Teen distracted driving (KXAN file photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — A new report by the AAA Foundation for Safety shows the average number of deadly crashes involving teenage drivers climbs about 15 percent between June 1 and Labor Day.

Graduation season is a struggle for Gina Newton. The end of the school year marks another year without her son.

I had all the graduation cards and invitations and no, no I didn’t know what to do with them,” said Newton. Her son, Andrew, was in the back seat when the 17-year-old driver crashed into a tree. She died at the scene, Andrew died in the ambulance one month before his high school graduation.

Austin Police Assistant Chief, Frank Dixon was at the hospital that day in 2014.

“We take for granted that, as they go through the driver education courses, that they learn everything that they need to know and the truth is, they don’t,” Dixon said. He urges parents to talk to their kids about safe driving.

“This could happen to anybody, I definitely did not think this would happen to Andrew,” Newton said.

Out of school and on the road, the number of deadly crashes with teens behind the wheel spikes during the summer months. AAA said distracted driving plays a role in nearly 60 percent of those crashes. Research indicates the biggest distraction is other teenagers in the car.

“It seems to have gone so slow and so fast all at the same time and to just think where he’d be today if he had lived,” Newton said.

In Texas, strict restrictions for teenagers who just get their license are lifted after six months.

Assistant Chief Dixon says there were 20 deadly crashes between Memorial Day and Labor day last year in Austin; four of them involved young victims, but only one was the fault of a young driver.

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