For every parent, the day his or her teen starts to drive is a frightening one. Parents have good reason to be nervous about their young driver. After all, the IIHS indicates that drivers ages 15-19 make 70 percent more insurance claims for auto accidents than drivers in any other five-year age group. Further, as CNN reports, car accidents are the leading cause of death for kids ages 15 to 20.
Unfortunately, parents now have a new and even greater reason to be worried. The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) indicates that the number of teen car accident deaths rose significantly in 2012 based on preliminary data. Our Atlanta, GA car accident lawyers know that if the trends continue in the final data, 2012 will be the second year in a row that more teens died in car wrecks than the year before.
Teen Car Accident Fatalities on the Rise
The GHSA collects information on fatal car accidents from members in all 50 states who report crashes. The data is then assembled to determine total fatalities as well as to determine how many people died in each state. GHSA compares the data to information from prior years to identify trends in car accident deaths.
In February, GHSA released a report indicating that the data for the first six months of 2012 did not look good. When considering deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers, the data showed a dramatic 19 percent increase in car accident fatalities as compared with the first half of 2011. Unfortunately, this preliminary data suggests that there will be an overall increase in the number of car accident fatalities for these young drivers. There was also an increase when comparing 2011 to 2010. The two consecutive years of increases come after eight years of decline.
The data in the state of Georgia was, however, better than average. In Georgia, six teens ages 16 and 17 years old died in the first six months of 2011 and five teens lost their lives during the same time period in the beginning half of 2012. While this was still five too many tragic losses, at least the state did not experience an overall increase in the number dead as so many other states did.
The good news for Georgia shouldn't be taken as a sign that Atlanta residents don't have to worry about teen car wrecks. GHSA indicates that small statistical changes from year-to-year shouldn't necessarily be considered indicative of any particular state policy since the sample sizes are simply small and thus prone to minor changes.
The overall increase in the number of teen deaths, which is so troubling, is important to focus on from this report even if Georgia was lucky enough not to experience an increase in deaths last year. GHSA believes that the overall increase has been driven, in large part, by more drivers on the road due to the better economy and by the fact that states are no longer really making improvements to graduated licensing programs. These factors suggest that the trend of more teen car accident deaths is not necessarily going to be resolved in a positive way any time soon.
To try to bring this number down, parents should make a point of talking to their kids about safe driving and law enforcement, and legislatures should continue efforts to pass and enforce safe driving laws to try to curb the rising tide of teen car accident fatalities.
If you have been injured in an Atlanta car accident, contact Gary Martin Hays & Associates at 1-800-898-HAYS.