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Highway deaths jump nearly 20 percent for teens

Posted On Thu, February 28, 2013

Traffic accident fatalities took a turn in the wrong direction through the first six months of last year - specifically among teenagers.

According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, highway deaths for teens 16 and 17 years of age increased between January and June of last year, jumping from 202 to 240, 19 percent overall.

For the states individually, 25 of them saw teen traffic deaths rise, the GHSA report shows, with eight recording no change and 17 witnessing decreases.

Allan Williams, former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, stressed that even one death is far too many, but accidents among teenagers are much less frequent historically.

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

Barbara Harsha, GHSA executive director, indicated that parents shouldn't underestimate the role they play in their teenagers' safety, as what they say and how they act can have a heavy influence on their kids' attitude behind the wheel.

"Parents have a huge responsibility to ensure safe teen driving behavior," said Harsha. " States can facilitate this by providing innovative programs that bring parents and teens together around this issue."

GHSA researchers speculate that a potential explanation for the rise in teen traffic deaths may have something to do with the benefits of Graduated Driver Licensing laws experiencing a plateau effect.

As a general rule, because accidents tend to occur more frequently among teens - who are less experienced on the road than those senior to them - auto insurance rates for teenagers are usually higher.

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