Report shows that teen drivers are still at risk of car crashes

A report released by a national highway safety organization shows that the number of fatalities among teen drivers increased in the first half of 2012, continuing a troubling reverse in the trend of declining teen car accident fatalities that had existed until recent years. Teen driver fatalities had been decreasing for eight years continuously until they increased in 2011, reports the New York Times.

The Governors Highway Safety Association is an organization of state traffic safety offices that seeks to improve behavioral highway safety hazards. In February 2013, the GHSA released a report with preliminary data on teen driver fatalities across the nation for the first six months of 2012. The report reveals a significant increase in the number of teen deaths caused by car crashes.

According to the GHSA study, compared with the first six months of 2011, driver fatalities for teens age 16 and 17 increased by 19 percent through June 2012, from 202 to 240. Among 16-year-old drivers, the number of fatalities increased by 24 percent, from 86 to 107. This increase in teen driver deaths comes against a backdrop of increasing traffic fatalities for all ages in 2012, although the increase was greater for younger drivers, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data reported by Consumer Reports.

Executives with the GHSA and other public safety advocates say the increase could be due to a few factors. First, as the economy improves and gas prices lower or remain steady, more teens are driving, increasing their risk exposure. Second, many think distracted driving is playing a role, as more drivers are using cellphones and taking their attention away from the task of driving. Finally, all 50 states have now implemented some form of graduated driver's licensing, so the gains in safety made through these programs may be leveling off.

Teen driving safety tips

Car accidents are the primary cause of injury and death among Americans age 15 to 20, Consumer Reports says, and the organization provides the following tips to help teen drivers stay safe behind the wheel:

  • Always wear a seat belt
  • Do not talk or text on a cellphone while driving
  • Limit the number of passengers in the car
  • Avoid driving at night or in bad weather
  • Take a car safety and defensive driving class

If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, contact attorney Earl L. Jiang, an experienced personal injury attorney, to discuss your legal options.