The number of teenage drivers dying in auto accidents is on the rise, according to a new study released this week. Specifically, 240 teen drivers died nationally between January and June of 2012, a jump of more than 19% from the 202 who lost their lives during that same period in 2011, according to the report authored by the Governors Highway Safety Association. Notably, however, Michigan did not see any change, with 6 driving deaths being reported during each time period. Indiana saw the greatest increase, jumping from 3 reported teen driving deaths during the first six months of 2011, to 16 deaths in the same period of 2012.
Although distracted driving, including texting and other use of cell phones while driving, is acknowledged as a factor in fatal teen auto accidents, the report points to several additional factors which may have played a role in the recent upturn of teenage driver fatalities. In particular, the report points to the recent improvement in the national economy, noting that economic recession in the last several years coincided with all-time lows in teen fatalities. According to the report, teenage drivers are substantially effected by economic downturn, in that during these times, they lack resources to purchase fuel, automobile insurance, and other operating expenses. As the economy rebounds, so does the amount of teenage drivers on the road.
A second factor which may help to explain this trend is the practice of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL). Over the last decade, many states have enacted tougher requirements on teens seeking to obtain driver’s licenses, including additional classroom training, as well as increasing the amount of time a teen must engage in supervised driving time before they are eligible to obtain a driver’s license. Despite the national success that these programs have found in reducing teenage driver auto accidents, a number of states have recently reversed the trend by softening the requirements for teenagers to obtain a license, or in some cases, removing the GDL programs altogether. However, it should be noted that Michigan took steps to further increase their driver’s education requirements in 2011, by passing additional legislation which imposed extra supervisory drive time for teens.
Written By Sinas Dramis Law Firm