U.S. Teen Deaths A Particular Concern

The Governors Highway Safety Association has compiled a report based on traffic accident figures for the first six months of 2012. According to the report, 2012 will mark the second consecutive year in which highway fatalities have increased for 16- and 17-year-old drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has projected that 2012 will show an 8 percent increase in traffic deaths for 2012. Teen drivers are responsible for some of that increase as teen driver deaths are estimated to rise 19 percent from 2011 to 2012.

2011 marked the first increase in car accident deaths among teens in 8 years. The increase was a modest 3 percent, but has still sparked concern among safety experts. A second straight year of increasing highway fatalities will draw further scrutiny. According to a compiler of the GHSA report, the increase may demonstrate that graduated driver licensing programs may have reached their maximum benefits. In addition, he suggested that the improving economy may have led to an increase in teen driver deaths. With poor employment numbers and little disposable income, teen driving habits may be more susceptible to change in a down economy.

Illinois is considered to have among the strongest, or strictest, graduated licensing laws in the nation. While no state has adopted all the recommendation of the NHTSA regarding graduated licensing programs, Illinois has adopted the majority of the preferred requirements. Restrictions typical to GDL programs include limiting the hours teens can drive, the passengers they can carry, and the age a person must attain before full licensing.

Source:  USA Today, “Deaths rise among youngest drivers,” by Larry Copeland, 16 February 2013

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