LANSING, Mich. (WLNS) — Experts are reminding parents to speak with their teens who have just begun driving, due to a rise in teen traffic fatalities.

The “100 Deadliest Days” for teen traffic fatalities have passed this year, but Oct. 15-21 is National Teen Driver Safety Week, and experts are warning that teen traffic fatalities rose by as much as 20% last year in some states.

“Parents play a critical role in teen driver safety and in communicating important driving safety information,” said Michelle Anderson, director of operations for the National Road Safety Foundation. “New teen drivers are still gaining experience behind the wheel, which increases the chance of dangerous situations for the teen and other roadway users around them, which is why it’s so important for parents to have these discussions with their teens.”

Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that 2,608 people died in crashes involving a teen driver in 2021, while around 94,201 teen drivers were injured in traffic crashes that year.

NRSF said among the key issues for parental discussion are as follows:

  • Impaired driving: Though teens are too young to legally consume alcohol, nationally 19% of teen passenger-vehicle drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2021 had alcohol in their systems. Marijuana also affects a driver’s ability to react to surroundings.
  • Seat belts: More than half of the teen drivers who died in crashes in 2021 were unbuckled. Parents should encourage teens to be firm and confirm everyone in their car is buckled before the car moves.
  • Distracted driving: Among teen drivers involved in fatal crashes in 2021, 7% were reported as distracted at the time of the crash. It’s not just cell phone use; other passengers, audio and climate controls in the car, and eating or drinking wile driving can also be dangerous distractions.
  • Speed: In 2021, almost one-third of teen drivers in fatal crashes were speeding at the time of the crash. Data shows that males were more likely to be involved in fatal speed-related crashes than females.
  • Passengers: Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash dramatically increases in direct relation to the number of passengers in a car. The likelihood that a teen driver will engage in risky behavior triples when multiple passengers are in the car.