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License restrictions lowered Texas, U.S. teen fatality rates

Five teens riding in a car north of Amarillo died when the vehicle collided with a fuel tanker. Texas Panhandle authorities are still investigating months after the fatal car accident near Dumas. Police determined the 17-year-old car driver pulled out in front of the truck.

The only person to survive the crash was the severely-burned tractor-trailer driver. The man’s condition remains critical. In the meantime, the parents of five teens bore the grief and expense of funerals for their children, ages 15 to 17.

Teen deaths in car accidents stick in the minds of the public more than other crashes. The unnecessary loss of life represents the loss of future experiences – a higher education, a satisfying career, a spouse and children and ultimately, a happy retirement.

Federal officials report the teen traffic fatality rate is not as high as it once was. The Governors Highway Safety Association reported a conspicuous decline in teen driving deaths between 2000 and 2011. Nationwide fatalities dropped from 435 to 173 among 16-year-old drivers and from 564 to 250 for 17-year-old drivers.

Teen fatality numbers fell steadily but reversed inexplicably in the first six months of last year. From 2011 to 2012, half-year fatalities for 16- and 17-year-old drivers jumped 19 percent.

Analysts say the auto accident death rate for teens declined sharply after states instituted graduated drivers’ license programs. Teen drivers are required to gain supervised on-the-road experience before earning privileges, like driving at night or accompanied by same-age passengers.

The licensing restrictions have helped curb deaths among teen drivers and passengers. More than 1,100 fewer teen passengers died in crashes involving 15- to 20-year-old drivers in 2011 compared to 1982.

Teens who are victims of car accidents have the same right to request liability compensation as older motorists. Parents may file civil cases for teens who are still too young to petition a court for damages. If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident due to another’s recklessness or negligence, contact an experienced Texas personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and options.

Source: newschannel10.com, "Cluster of fatal teen car crashes belies US trend" Betsy Blaney, Aug. 09, 2013

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