One of the most dangerous places for teens continues to be behind the wheel, according to a study by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The GHSA says deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers went up by 19% during the first six months of 2012.
The agency looked at data taken from all 50 states plus the District of Columbia and came up with some alarming statics:
Overall, 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 202 to 240 (up 19%).
Deaths of 16-year-old drivers increased from 86 to 107 (up 24%).
Deaths of 17-year-old drivers went from 116 to 133 (up 15%).
Twenty-five states reported increases, 17 reported decreases and eight states plus the District of Columbia reported no change.
Just as alarming is that during this same timeframe, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that all traffic deaths increased by 8% — much less than the teen-driver fatality increase of 19%. Why such a sharp increase? Researchers believe one contributing factor may be an economic upswing — more kids gain access to vehicles when the economy improves.
The study's authors are alarmed at the results of the report but stress that despite last year's uptick, deaths in this age group are still at a historically low level.
"We are still at a much better place than we were 10 or even five years earlier. However, the goal is to strive toward zero deaths, so our aim would be that these deaths should go down every year," researcher Allan Williams said in a statement.