Memorial Day marks the unofficial start of summer; a season that local law enforcement says is a dangerous time for teens on our roads. Highway Patrol says more young drivers get in accidents during the summer months and now is the time when driving safety is more important than ever. "Teenagers are careless," 18-year-old Kristyn Manning said, "But we know that we have to be safe, so we try to be safe and things happen." The summer months mean teen drivers out of school, and on the road. In a joint study done by Liberty Mutual and SADD, teen drivers average 44 percent more hours behind the wheel each week during the summer than during the school year. "It's a fun time of year," 17-year-old Meredith McDonald said, but it can be very dangerous." Dangerous is right. Highway Patrol says accident rates for young drivers are significantly higher during the summertime. "Inexperience is the biggest thing," First Sergeant J.O. Holmes said, "Most of these drivers have had very limited time on the road." Not only do teens have less experience, they have more distractions too. "Attention is a lot of the problem we see," First Sergeant Holmes said, "Talking to friends, talking on cell phones or just looking around. They're not paying attention." "I text message while I drive and that's not safe I know," 19-year-old Justin Fellers said. "I talk on the phone, I text message, which is not safe," 18-year-old Kristyn Manning. Highway Patrol officers recommend putting down the cellphone, lightening up on the gas pedal, and of course buckling up. "The biggest thing teenagers should do is slow down and take their time and make sure they pay attention to what they're doing," First Sergeant Holmes advises.
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