DES MOINES — We’re now a week into what are considered the 100 deadliest days to be on the roads, in Iowa and nationwide.

Rose White, spokeswoman for AAA Iowa, says the period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is when the number of deadly crashes involving teen drivers historically rise. “That’s because teens are out of school, have more free time and they drive more,” White says. “Nearly 3,500 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the 100 deadliest days for the five-year period running 2013 through 2017.”

Studies continue to find that teens are a vulnerable driver group, White says, with a higher probability of being involved in crashes. “A review of Iowa crash fatalities shows that for the 10-year period from 2009 to 2018, there were 447 people killed in crashes on Iowa roadways in which at least one of the drivers was a teen, aged 14 through 19,” White says.

While there’s much discussion about the dangers of distracted driving, the latest research finds distracted driving is the third-leading cause of deadly crashes involving teen drivers. The top two are speeding and alcohol. “Half of the teen drivers reported speeding on residential streets in the past 30 days and nearly 40% said they sped on freeways,” White says. “Despite the fact teens cannot legally consume alcohol, one in 16 teen drivers involved in fatal crashes tested positive for alcohol.”

While teens may make mistakes when learning to drive, White says it’s important to continue educating them about safety so they can avoid reckless behaviors that put themselves and others at risk on the road.