Memorial Day traditionally marks the beginning of summer for many of us. It’s also the most dangerous time of year on the roads for teen drivers.

The period between Memorial Day and Labor Day is known as the “100 Deadliest Days” for teen drivers, a time when the average number of deadly teen driver crashes climbs 15 percent compared to the rest of the year.

New teen drivers are three times as likely as adults to be involved in a deadly accident. Nine of the ten most dangerous days for youth on U.S. highways fall between May and August.

The deadliest day of all? The fourth of July. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) studied deaths resulting from auto accidents from 2005 to 2009 and ranked the July 4 as the deadliest day of the year, with 144 driving-related fatalities on average. Teens accounted for nearly 10% of the deaths.

Teenagers are more likely to engage in “distracted driving” behavior, which describes activities that can endanger the safety of drivers, passengers, and pedestrians. Examples of distracted driving include texting, using a cell phone, or grooming while driving a motor vehicle.

Distracted driving plays a role in more than half of teen crashes, and 60-percent of teen drivers killed were not wearing a seatbelt.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety recently analyzed crash rates per mile driven for all drivers and found that for every mile on the road, drivers ages 16-17 years old are:

3.9 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash
2.6 times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a fatal crash
4.5 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a crash
3.2 times as likely as drivers 30-59 to be involved in a fatal crash

Three factors that contribute to deadly crashes for teen drivers? Speeding, distracted driving and not using a seatbelt.

AAA Arizona has a variety of tools to help prepare parents and teens for the dangerous summer driving season. Check out Teendriving.AAA.com for information.

For a list of safety ratings on vehicles, go to the IIHS “top safety picks” page.