Distracted driving

During 100 Deadliest Days, California man involved in double-fatal crash as a teen joins Auto Club and Cambridge Mobile Telematics to prevent other teen crashes this summer

“I still have PTSD from the crash, and it will never leave my mind.”
June 1, 2023

Los Angeles, June 1, 2023 – The Automobile Club of Southern California and Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT), the world’s largest telematics service provider, are teaming up to prevent deaths and injuries from teen driver crashes this summer. The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the 100 Deadliest Days, when teen driver crashes increase dramatically.

According to the latest data available, from 2012 to 2021, 7,316 people nationwide died in teen driver-related summertime crashes. That is nearly half of the total number of those killed in teen driver crashes for the entire rest of the year. In 2021 alone, 900 people died in these types of crashes, up from 851 the previous year – a 6% increase. And it was a 25% increase from the teen crash numbers in 2019, before the pandemic began. In California alone in 2021, 205 people died in crashes involving a driver between the ages of 15 and 18 years old.

“The summer months are an especially dangerous time for teens because they often have more freedom, are driving with other young people, and they may not fully understand the potential risks they face while on the road,” said Auto Club Corporate Communications Manager Doug Shupe. “However, parents and guardians can play a crucial role in keeping young drivers safe by enforcing rules of the road, ensuring teens follow state graduated driver licensing laws, and by being a good role model when behind the wheel themselves.” 

Three common causes of deadly crashes for teen drivers are speeding, distraction and not wearing seatbelts. According to research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, new teen drivers ages 16-17 are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly crash. Speeding is a factor in nearly 30 percent of fatal crashes involving teen drivers. 

According to newly released data by CMT, from 2020 through 2022, time spent speeding increased by 5% during the 100 Deadliest Days compared to 30 days before and 30 days after that period. 

Distracted driving is also an increasing danger contributing to teen driver crashes during the 100 Deadliest Days. According to a new CMT report called “The State of Distracted Driving in 2023 & the Future of Road Safety,” driver distraction has surged by 23% since 2020 on America’s roadways. CMT estimates that the increase in distracted driving caused an additional 420,000 crashes, 1,000 fatalities, and $10 billion in damages to the U.S. economy in 2022. 

CMT’s research also found that phone screen interaction — including texting, emailing, social media, and app use — increased by 5% during the 100 Deadliest Days. CMT estimates this increase in distraction would cause an additional 27,000 crashes, 60 fatalities, and $650 million in economic damage during the 100 Deadliest Days.

“By almost every metric CMT measures, distracted driving is more present than ever on U.S. roadways,” said Ryan McMahon, CMT’s SVP of Strategy. “Unfortunately, both speeding and distraction have surged during the 100 Deadliest Days. By identifying the risky behaviors that lead to crashes, we hope drivers will slow down and focus on the road, preventing crashes before they happen.”

Walker Musso knows how dangerous unsafe driving as a teenager can be. On August 14, 2015, just one week before he was supposed to go to college on a baseball scholarship, the then 18-year-old was driving home from getting ice cream with his younger brother when he decided to drive more than 130 miles per hour on a Sacramento road. While speeding, an impaired driving turned in front of him and Musso crashed into the other car at 133 miles per hour.

“I remember two distinct sounds from that night, like the crash happened yesterday,” said Musso. “First, I remember the sound of my little brother choking on his own blood. Second, I remember the blood-curdling scream that my mom let out when I told her about the crash.” 

Although Musso’s brother survived, he was severely injured with broken bones, bruised lungs and bladder, as well as smashed teeth. Two people in the other car died in the crash. Musso suffered anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies for several years after the crash. He could barely get out of bed, his grades suffered, and he dropped out of college. Last February, his court case finally ended, and he was sentenced to a year in jail and 11 years of probation. 

“I pray that no person ever has to go through this pain and guilt, whether they are the victim or defendant,” said Musso. “I wish that I had gotten caught, had my car impounded and was ticketed instead of the crash happening. When people talk about me in my hometown, I am known as the guy who killed two people. I truly hope that my story can help deter teenagers from making the same choices I made.” 

To keep roads safer this summer, the Auto Club encourages parents and guardians to:

  • Talk with teens early and often about abstaining from dangerous behavior behind the wheel, such as speeding, impairment, and distracted driving.
  • Teach by example and be a good role model. Minimize risky behavior when driving because young people are watching what adults do.
  • Establish a parent-teen driving agreement that sets family rules for teen drivers.
  • Ensure teens follow California’s Graduated Driver Licensing laws, which requires:
    • A minimum six-month learner’s permit period and parent/guardian certification that the teen driver completed at least 50 hours of supervised driving practice, including 10 hours at night
    • A teen driving curfew between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. for 12 months during the provisional license, unless with a licensed adult (25 years or older)
    • A ban on passengers under age 20 during the provisional license period, unless accompanied by a licensed adult (25 years or older)

Click here for more tips to prevent teen-driver crashes and encourage safe driving habits this summer. 

About Cambridge Mobile Telematics

Cambridge Mobile Telematics (CMT) is the world’s largest telematics service provider. Its mission is to make the world’s roads and drivers safer. The company’s AI-driven platform, DriveWell®, gathers sensor data from millions of IoT devices — including smartphones, proprietary Tags, connected vehicles, dashcams, and third-party devices — and fuses them with contextual data to create a unified view of vehicle and driver behavior. Companies from personal and commercial auto insurance, automotive, rideshare, smart cities, wireless, financial services, and family safety industries use insights from CMT’s platform to power their risk assessment, safety, claims, and driver improvement programs. Headquartered in Cambridge, MA, with offices in Budapest, Chennai, Seattle, Tokyo, and Zagreb, CMT serves millions of people through over 95 programs in 25 countries, including 21 of the top 25 US auto insurers. Learn more at CMT.ai.

About AAA

Started in 1902 by automotive enthusiasts who wanted to chart a path for better roads in America and advocate for safe mobility, AAA has transformed into one of North America’s largest membership organizations. Today, AAA provides roadside assistance, travel, discounts, financial and insurance services to enhance the life journey of over 63 million members across North America, including 56 million in the United States. To learn more about all AAA has to offer or to become a member, visit AAA.com.