Rise in Teen Traffic Fatalities Suggests More Work Needed to Prevent Unsafe Teen Driving


March 15, 2013

While drivers of all ages suffer severe injuries and wrongful death in motor vehicle accidents, novice teen drivers are more likely to be involved in a car accident because of their lack of experience and/or maturity.

Traffic safety laws aimed at curbing some of the most dangerous driving practices by teen drivers have yielded reductions in fatal traffic accidents in recent years.

However, a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association indicates that teen traffic fatalities rose sharply during the first half of 2012. Traffic fatalities involving teen drivers rose by 19 percent during this period when compared to the same timeframe the previous year. While 107 sixteen-year-old drivers died in car accidents from the period of January to June in 2012, there were only 86 traffic fatalities for this age group during the same period the prior year. Similarly, the number of seventeen-year-olds that died in traffic collisions rose from 116 to 133.

A traffic safety expert commenting on the report indicated that changes in technology may explain the sudden increase. While Georgia and other states have passed laws to discourage teens from using cell phones when driving, the increasing number of devices and vast array of applications may entice teen drivers to disregard these traffic safety laws. There are literally millions of “apps” for android smart phones and iPhones that include games, GPS and multimedia players. The continued popularity of social media networks that encourage teens to constantly update their status may also contribute to the problem.

While this increase is bad news, the general trend during recent years suggests that limitations on novice drivers seem to be having a positive impact. Georgia has a graduated licensing system that imposes restrictions on novice drivers that include restricting passengers and a ban on nighttime driving. Georgia also is a “zero tolerance” state in terms of DUI for drivers under the age of 21. A teenager who drives with any measurable amount of alcohol in Georgia commits an underage DUI offense.

These laws have reduced teen driving distractions and teen drinking and driving, which has yielded positive results in recent years. The number of traffic-related fatalities among 16 and 17 year olds declined by fifty percent in 2011 from 2000 levels. The sudden surge in the other direction is a reminder that states must continue to enact stronger measures aimed at discouraging unsafe driving practices by novice teen drivers. The relatively mild penalties along with challenges in enforcing the ban on text messaging and calling on cell phones has diminished the effectiveness of teen bans on using mobile devices while driving.

If you or a family member has suffered serious injury or you have lost a loved one, our experienced Georgia accident attorneys at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.

No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

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