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Despite the fact that the number of 16 and 17 year old driver deaths is at a low point compared to the last decade, the first half of 2012 experienced a spike in teenagers dying behind the wheel.
Deaths among teem drivers increased for the first time in eight years last year, despite the fact that total motor vehicle deaths have declined.
According to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), 16- to 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 190 to 211 based on preliminary data supplied by all 50 states for the first six months of 2011. That’s an increase of 11-percent and if the trend continues for the second half of 2011, it will end eight straight years of declines within that age group.
16-year-old drivers’ deaths increased 16-percent from 80 to 93, while 17-year-olds went up 7-percent from 110 to 118. While some states reported increases and others reported decreases, and some even reported no change, Florida, California, and North Carolina had significant increases in teenage driving-related deaths.
Dr. Allan Williams, a researcher who formerly served as chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, believes some of the increase is a result of a leveling off from the benefits we experienced with the state Graduated Driver Licensing laws. He also speculated that with improving economic conditions, more teenagers are getting behind the wheel of cars.
Obviously this raises concerns and further educating teenager drivers could be a solution, but Williams agrees that more work could be done to save teenage lives. It will be interesting to see what the report says with the data accumulated from the last half of 2011.