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Deaths in car accidents among Texas teens soar

Deadly car accidents involving teens are on the rise across the U.S., according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The report states that fatal car accidents for teens climbed during the first half of last year, after leveling off or declining for eight years.

Texas was one of three states where teens’ deaths by vehicle have jumped significantly. GHSA officials say traffic fatalities among 16 and 17-year-olds crept upward from 190 to 211 in the first half of 2011, despite a drop in overall traffic deaths. Statistics showed improvement among drivers of all ages. Nearly 1 percent fewer drivers died in motor vehicle accidents in the first half of last year than in 2010.

When the data was isolated to teens, the numbers changed. Death rates among 16-year-old drivers leaped 16 percent and 7 percent for drivers just one year older. Ninety-three 16-year-olds and 118 drivers who were 17-years-old died in car crashes early last year. Almost half of the states saw teen traffic deaths go up. Another 19 states saw a decline in teen car fatalities. Eight states along with Washington D.C. reported stagnant numbers.

Some analysts, including the scientist who compiled the GHSA report, believe the slow improvement in the economy has put more money in teens’ pockets and more teens back on the road. Another reason suspected for the increase is the fading recognition of teen laws for Graduated Driver Licenses. Observers say laws governing teens’ slow acclimation to driving have aged enough to lose statistical impact.

The director of GHSA recommends that the federal government get behind programs to make driving laws for teens stronger. Among the perceived reasons teens are dying in traffic accidents are inexperience in driving at night and distractions caused by electronic devices and non-adult passengers.

Source: health.usnews.com, "U.S. Teen Driving Deaths Up: Report," Feb. 16, 2012

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