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Better Economy Equals More Teen Driver Deaths?

By Joel Arellano | February 22, 2012
Teen driver deaths are on the rise again. That's the conclusion in the latest "Teenage Driver Fatalities by State" report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, a voluntary organization composed of various state highway safety groups. According to the report, teen death by auto accidents rose in the first half of 2011, a reversal to the downward trend over the past eight years. Teenage deaths rose from 190 fatalities in the same timeframe in 2010 to 211 in the same period in 2011, an increase of 11-percent. Fatalities rose in nearly half the states, with Florida, North Carolina, and Texas showing the highest figures; 19 states reported a decline in fatalities while eight, including the District of the Columbia, showing no changes since last year. The rise has drawn attention because teen driver fatalities usually increase in the latter half of the year. Teenage driver deaths fell from more than 1,000 in 1995 to a total of 408 in 2010. Nationwide, auto fatalities across all age groups had fallen nearly 10 percent in the first half of 2011. Former Insurance Institute for Highway Safety chief scientist Dr. Allan Williams suggested two possible reasons for the uptick in teen driver fatalities. The first involves state driving laws, which regulate how and when teens may drive on the road. Not all states, for example, prohibit teen drivers from driving at night. Another possible cause is the improving economy. Dr. Williams speculates the recession prevented many teens from traveling and seeking employment due to car costs like auto insurance and even gasoline. As the recession begins to ease, more teens are getting behind the wheel again and, unfortunately, getting involved in accidents. Automotive.com's take: With all respect to Dr. Williams, we find the explanations too simplistic, and like the GHSA's suggestion. We think the GHSA should do more studies on this phenomenon like they commissioned on cell phone use while driving. Source: New York Times
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