State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones stopped in Southern California last week to urge teen drivers to be safe over the summer and avoid unnecessary risks that could lead to auto accidents.
He said the 100 days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the most dangerous for young people in vehicles.
"With today being the first of day summer, most teens are on break from school, and this time also represents one of the deadliest time periods for teen drivers, who have the highest percentage of auto crashes of any drivers," Jones said at an Automobile Club office in San Diego recently, marking the first day of summer and the solstice.
"That's why it is important for parents, teachers – all of us – to regularly take the time and educate our kids about becoming safe drivers and learning crash avoidance techniques."
Auto Club spokeswoman Alice Bisno said the four days around the July 4 holiday are among the most deadly for teens. The fatality rate for a 16- or 17-year-old driver rises 44 percent when there is another person younger than 21 in the vehicle, she said.
“We want people to be careful all weekend, but particularly at night,” said Glendora Police Chief Rob Castro in a press statement last year. He said the rate of alcohol-involved fatal accidents in 2009 were four times higher at night than during the day.
Jones reminded teens to drive defensively, keep their speed within posted limits and less at night or in bad weather, maintain safe distances from other cars, wear seatbelts, drive sober and, if you're a passenger, riding only with sober drivers.
According to the California Highway Patrol, teen drivers are found at fault in 66 percent of all fatal collisions they are involved in, yet they only represent about 4 percent of the state's licensed drivers.
The leading cause of death for young Americans ages 15 to 20 is motor vehicle crashes, the CHP reports.
For more information on free teen driving classes offered through the CHP, contact the Baldwin Park CHP office at 626-338-1164.
--Toni McAllister and City News Service contributed to this report.