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Study Shows Teen Driver Deaths On the Rise

Published March 21, 2013 by Scott Gottlieb, Injury Law Attorney

Deaths of teens in auto accidents across the country rose dramatically in the first half of 2012, according to a recent report.

A total of 240 teen drivers ages16 and 17 were killed in traffic accidents from January to July 2012, says a survey by the Governors’ Highway Safety Association. This was a 19 percent increase from the same period in 2011.

Following are some recent examples:

  • In January, an Albion teen died when her 1996 Dodge Neon – which was disabled in the median of Interstate 81 – was struck by another vehicle. The victim was on her way home from cosmetology classes when her car broke down, according to news reports. She was alone in her car and on the phone with Onondaga County 911 reporting her breakdown when her car was struck by a 2002 Buick Century.
  • Last fall, four teens were killed in a crash on Long Island.
  • On March 10, five teens were killed in a fiery crash in Texas after the driver ran a stop sign and struck a tanker loaded with fuel.
  • That same day, six teens died in Ohio when the 19-year-old driver of a stolen SUV plunged off the road and into water.
  • On March 9 – one day earlier – four Illinois teens were killed when a teenage driver hit a patch of ice or water, lost control and smashed through a guard rail.
  • On March 8, three teens died in Indiana on their way back from a Future Farmers of America event when the drivers of two pickup trucks both ran stop signs and collided with each other.

Despite the grim numbers in the Governors’ Highway Safety Association report, teen driving deaths have been trending lower in recent decades.

In 2000, a total of 435 drivers aged 16 years old were killed. In 2011 that number had dropped to 173. During the same time frame, deaths of 17-year-old drivers dipped from 564 to 250.

In 1982, there were 1,898 deaths of passengers in cars driven by 15 to 20-year-olds, according to the report. In 2011, that number dropped to 777.

One reason for the improved safety numbers: States have imposed more restrictions on teen drivers, including limits on driving at night and driving with other teens as passengers.

In addition, fewer American teens are getting driver’s licenses, researchers have found.


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