TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- Memorial Day kicks off barbecues and picnics, but also something much more sobering--the 100 deadliest days of the year for teen drivers.
It's practically summer this time of year, and that means teen drivers are going to have more time on the road, less adult supervision, and they're more likely to drive after dark.
The words “car accident" are not what driving instructor Jose Rodriguez would use.
“An accident is something that we can't control, and a collision--we can control a collision,” said Rodriguez, who owns Sueño Driving School.
Rodriguez said he loves teaching teens to drive correctly and confidently.
“Safety is my number-one priority,” he said.
Rodriguez said he shares with the students how he lost two friends in car crashes.
“I had a friend that lost her life to a drunk driver.”
That the 100 deadliest days for teen drivers is in the summer, didn't come as a shock to him.
“Oh wow,” he said. “That's the time that I lost my friends.”
A map of Washington breaks down the counties by number of serious teen car crashes.
About 13% of serious crashes in Franklin County between 2013 and 2017 involved teen drivers. Franklin county has the fourth highest numbers in the state.
Benton County's are lower--with almost 6 percent of serious crashes involving teens.
“Keep your attention on the road,” Rodriguez said. “You have one job--as a driver you have one job--and that is to get from point ‘a’ to point ‘b.’”
Rodriguez said parents should teach teens to avoid distractions like phones and food, limit their driving time--especially when it's dark outside.
“I feel proud for them, but I always tell them--hold onto that license--It's a privilege to be a driver, not a right. You could always lose it,” he said.
The 100 deadliest days start Memorial Day and end Labor Day.