AAA prepares for busy Memorial Day weekend, warns teens about drunk driving

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — Memorial Day weekend is here, and millions of Americans are getting set to hit the road and take to the skies to travel for the unofficial start of summer.

Nearly 43 million Americans are expected to travel this weekend, with more than 37 million doing so by car. In New England, AAA estimates 1.7 million New Englanders will be traveling for the holiday.

It’s expected to be one of the busiest summer travel periods of the past decade as well as one of the deadliest.

The 100 deadliest days of summer between Memorial Day weekend and Labor Day weekend are even more dangerous for teens with almost 25% of deadly teen crashes happening in this time period.

And in the Ocean State, we’re off to an already worse start than years past with 31 fatal crashes on Rhode Island highways in 2023.

“That’s up significantly from last year when we had only 12 at this time,” said Department of Transportation director, Peter Alviti. “It’s inconceivable as we stand here today to know that given those stats the probability is telling us 20 Rhode Islanders will die this summer.”

Fatal teen crashes are also on the rise. Data from AAA shows alarming numbers: 6,598 people died in teen-related summertime crashes between 2012-2021. That’s nearly half of the total number of those killed in teen driver crashes for the entire rest of the year.

In 2021 alone, 803 people were killed in these types of crashes, up from 756 the previous year — a 6% increase. This 2021 data is also a 25% increase over pre-pandemic 2019.

AAA said 23% of all fatal teen crashes were during the 100 Deadliest Days in Rhode Island.

At a press conference Thursday with local and state police agencies, as well as students from Seekonk High School, officials explained the importance for teens to practice roadway safety and avoid drunk driving, which Kevin Lynch with the Rhode Island State Police Chiefs Association said accounts for more than 25% of crashes in Rhode Island.

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