USA Today reported that teen driving deaths increased nearly 20% in the first half of 2012. The increase in teen traffic deaths was more than double that for overall traffic fatalities.
If the numbers hold true for the second half of 2012, it would mark the second straight year of increases in deaths of teen drivers. In 2011, road deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers rose 3%, ending eight straight years of declines.
– USA Today, Deaths surge among youngest drivers
One safety consultant pins the increase on two factors: (1) an improving economy providing teens with more disposable income, which leads to more driving; and (2) a leveling off safety benefits from graduated licensing laws.
Not mentioned in the article is the issue of distracted driving. A poll from early 2012 showed that nearly all teen drivers knew that distracted driving – including texting and driving – is dangerous, but nearly half admitted to texting while driving anyway. Just last weekend, I was nearly run out of my lane on the Interstate by a young lady texting while driving at 70 mph.
Other factors, according to AAA, include distractions, the number of passengers in the vehicle, driving too fast, and limited visibility at night.
When more teens are in the car, new drivers are inherently more likely to be driving at night and are more likely to be driving faster, according to AAA Utah's press release.
Some experts have suggested moving from a patchwork of state driving requirements to a single, national driving standard for new drivers.
Regardless of the causes, one thing is for certain: teen driving deaths are far too frequent and something must be done to keep our children – and the rest of the driving public – safer.
[More on Distracted Driving]
- Deaths surge among youngest drivers [Larry Copeland at USA Today]
- Teen drivers with three or more peer passengers have quadruple the risk for crashes [Erin Hong at Deseret News]
- Poll: Teen Drivers Know Texting Is Dangerous; Do It Anyway
- Should There Be A National Standard For Teen Drivers?
© Copyright 2013 Brett A. Emison
Follow @BrettEmison on Twitter.
Brett Emison is currently a partner at Langdon & Emison, a firm dedicated to helping injured victims across the country from their primary office near Kansas City. Mainly focusing on catastrophic injury and death cases as well as complex mass tort and dangerous drug cases, Mr. Emison often deals with automotive defects, automobile crashes, railroad crossing accidents (train accidents), trucking accidents, dangerous and defective drugs, defective medical devices.