Report: Young teen driver deaths up in US; down in Georgia

While the number of young teen drivers who died in car accidents dropped in Georgia, it increased sharply across the nation for the first six months of 2012, according to a government report released Tuesday.

It compared the number of deaths in 2012 to the same period in 2011. Overall, young teen driver deaths rose to 240 from 202 – a 19 percent jump, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association report.

In Georgia, however, fewer novice teen drivers died in car accidents during the period, according to the 14-page report.

The report looked at 16- and 17-year-old driver fatalities in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Georgia had five young teen driver deaths during the first six months of 2012 — down from six deaths during the first half of 2011.

Twenty-five states reported increases, 17 had decreases, and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change in the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths.

Tennessee, along with Indiana, led the nation for the number of teen driving deaths. Alabama had a sharp spike — from three deaths to 12. Florida saw a decline: from 14 teen driving deaths for the first half of 2011, to five for the same period in 2012.

The report – the first state-by-state look at teen driver fatalities in 2012 – was completed by Dr. Allan Williams, a researcher who formerly served as chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Traffic deaths nationally increased by 8 percent, according to the report.

“It is particularly concerning that 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths appear to have increased at an even greater rate.”

Williams attributes much of the increase to the leveling off of state driving programs, and the fact that more teens are driving due to an improved economy. Williams stresses that while the news is not good, deaths in this age group remain at a historically low level.

“We are still at a much better place than we were ten or even five years earlier. However, the goal is to strive toward zero deaths, so our aim would be that these deaths should go down every year,” he said.

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