CDC Study Shows Teen Auto Accident Fatalities Are Declining
A new study just reported in the Center for Disease Control (CDC) publication Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report provides encouraging evidence that teen auto accident fatalities are on the decline. The report indicates that the teenage auto accident death rate for teenagers aged 15-19 declined 17% in 2009 from the rate in 2008 resulting in 500 fewer deaths. The report also indicated this decline is a continuation of recent trends including a 38% decline in fatal teenage car crashes from the period of 2004 to 2008.
The CDC report indicates that the expanded enactment and increased limitations of graduated driver's license (GDL) programs has played a major role in the reduction of car crash related teen fatalities. This conclusion is supported by the fact that the general decline in teen car collision related fatalities began in 1996 when such programs were started. Between the period of 1996 and 2008, teen auto accident fatalities declined by 50%. GDL programs increase the period a teen driver must operate a motor vehicle with a learner's permit, places restrictions on a new teen driver's license and imposes limitations on a teen driver's ability to transport passengers. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, we have been representing those injured in Georgia car crashes for over 37 years, including those involving teen drivers.
The data in the CDC report clearly provides good news but is also a mixed bag. Automobile crashes remain the number one cause of death amongst teenagers. GDL programs vary from state to state, but the Georgia program limits nighttime driving and who a teen driver may have as a passenger in the vehicle. Teen drivers also must wait a year after obtaining their driving permit to obtain a Georgia driver's license. The data in the CDC report also makes clear that teen car crash fatality rates still range widely between states from a low of 9.7 per 100,000 in New York to a high of 59.6 per 100,000 in Wyoming. Georgia's teen motor vehicle accident fatality rate for that period was 29.2 per 100,000. Although 49 states and the District of Columbia have adopted GDL programs, the requirements vary from state to state, which may be partially responsible for the wide range of teen traffic fatalities between states.
The CDC also suggested that other factors may also play a role in the reduction in fatal teen car crashes. A wider use of seat belts by teen drivers and decreases in teen drinking and driving are presumed to have contributed to the decrease in teen car collision fatalities. The economic downturn is also assumed to have impacted teen car crash fatalities because it has resulted in fewer miles being driven (i.e. less discretionary travel) and cost related delays in obtaining driver's licenses.
There is little question that GDL programs have had a significant role in reducing teen accident fatalities and the frequency of teen traffic accidents. Another recent study found that GDL programs have reduced the number of teen traffic collisions by 20-40%. However, there are still reasons to be concerned as teen drivers, particularly males, continue to practice dangerous driving practices. Male drivers accounted for 65% of all fatal accidents involving 16-17 year olds. Amongst teen drivers involved in fatal car accidents, 36% were speeding and 46% had a measurable level of alcohol in their system.
The CDC report both gives reason to be optimistic and provides guidance for the future. We can make our roads safer by continuing to enforce and even expand Georgia's GDL program to include more extensive restrictions on teen drivers. It is also important that laws governing alcohol use and speeding by teenagers be strictly enforced. Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, is committed to making Georgia drivers safer.
The attorneys at Montlick and Associates assist those throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast who are seriously injured or killed in car crashes. If you or someone you love is injured in a Georgia car accident, call Montlick & Associates today to see how we can help. Our Georgia car accident attorneys are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Dalton, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. Call us today for your free consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com. No matter where you are in Georgia, we are just a phone call away and we will even come to you. To learn more about Montlick & Associates' extensive public service programs and committment to injury prevention click here.