In 2011, Matt Groves and a friend were assisting another motorist who had run out of gas on Eisenhower Road. As they were pushing the car off the road, they were struck by a drunken driver. Matt Groves was killed. He was 21 years old.
Teresa Groves, Matt’s mother, and her husband, John, often share the sad story of their son as a cautionary tale, especially during the summer months.
“This time of year, the kids are out of school, getting ready to go to college, and they want to have a summer of fun,” Teresa Groves said. “There is just a lot of traffic on the roads during the summer.”
Memorial Day through Labor Day is typically known as the 100 deadliest days of the year for teen drivers.
According to AAA, in the past five years, more than 5,000 people across the country have been killed in crashes involving teenage drivers during those deadly days of summer.
With school out of session for the summer, more young drivers are on the roads.
“This time of year, there is a high volume of young, inexperienced drivers on the roadways,” said Leavenworth County Undersheriff Jim Sherley. “There are a lot of young drivers out and about this time of year.”
He said new drivers don’t have experience in recovery situations such as how to swerve to avoid an object on the road or how to adjust speed for merging traffic.
“Inexperienced drivers are experiencing things for the first time behind the wheel,” Sherley said.
Distractions such as the use of technology while driving and having multiple friends in the vehicle can increase the chances of an accident.
“Put down your phone when you are driving,” Teresa Groves said.
“Distracted driving is something we deal with every day,” Sherley said, “but especially with young drivers.”
According to the National Safety Council, multiple passengers increase the risk of a teen driver having a fatal crash by 44 percent.
Sherley said that during the school year, teens are driving back and forth to school during the day on familiar roads. That may not be the case during the summer when they are out with friends at night on unfamiliar roads.
Sherley said drivers should not over-drive their driving capabilities.
“Be vigilant and look out for others,” Sherley said.