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US Teen Driver Deaths on the Rise

Scott Monge

Nationally, teen driver deaths have increased 19 percent from 2011-2012 in the first six months of each year, according to a recent report published by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. Statewide, Georgia has seen a slight decrease. But that doesn’t mean our state’s teenagers are pros on the asphalt. In the first six months of last year, five teens died in auto accidents across Georgia. That number is down only one from 2011.

Today, the distractions on the road are limitless. Accompanying their inexperience, novice drivers are facing new diversions like phone calls and text messages. The GHSA report also cites the economy as a possible factor for the national increase in teen fatalities, suggesting that with the improved economy more teens are able to afford vehicles, increasing the number of new drivers on the road.

Georgia and other states with declining numbers of teen fatalities were praised for their graduated driver licensing initiatives, which extend the learner period, allowing for more on-road practice time.

The GHSA report goes on to say that parents are the key factor in reducing teen traffic incidents. Parents should get involved in their kids’ driving experience. They should be rigorous in the evaluation of their child’s driving and address common mistakes and defensive driving techniques.

So what should beginners behind the wheel be focused on?

The largest campaign geared toward teen drivers right now is a focus on distracted driving. That means drivers should turn off their cell phones to avoid phone calls or text messages. Also, the risk for accidents increases with more passengers, so inexperienced drivers should drive solo.

Speed is a common cause of traffic deaths. Obeying speed limits is a key factor to safety. Turning on headlights increases visibility no matter the time of day. And before purchasing a vehicle, drivers should do their research. Look up safety features and crash test ratings to make sure the vehicle is safe and well-equipped for today’s roads.

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Scott Monge

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