Teenage driver fatalities are a troubling problem that our nation faces today. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens.
This is a serious issue that governments at the state and federal level have attempted to resolve using a variety of methods, including stricter laws and driver education. All 50 states adopted graduated licenses, which place restrictions on young, inexperienced drivers, including how late they can drive and how many passengers they can have in the car.
For years, the nation’s increased efforts to reduce teen deaths seemed to be working: from 2002 to 2010, the number of teens killed in car accidents decreased.
However, a recent article in the New York Times reports an unfortunate reversal of this trend. It is likely that, for the second year in a row, teen deaths in car crashes will increase.
According to the article, “The death toll for 16- and 17-year-old drivers of passenger vehicles jumped 19 percent, compared with the first half of 2011.”
Data from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia showed that 25 states reported an increase in the number of deaths while 17 reported a decrease. Overall, teen driver fatalities rose from 202 to 240.
Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, said that deaths typically increase in the second half of the year—meaning that it is probable that when the final data is compiled that 2012 will see an overall increase in teen driver fatalities.
Dr. Williams, former chief scientist of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, attributed the increase in deaths to a number of factors, including an improving economy and distracted driving.
Harsha stated that, in order to prevent this troubling trend from continuing, we must strengthen laws, increase awareness, and improve driver education programs.