This month the Governors Highway Safety Association released its preliminary numbers for highway fatalities during the first half of 2012. The numbers showed a spike in the number of deaths of teen drivers. A first look at the data suggests that there was a 19 percent increase in the number of deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers during the period of 2012 compared to the same time in 2011.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that the number of deaths for drivers of all age groups will have increased during that period, up 8 percent. Although these projections don't yet include the last half of the year, it could signal that highway death numbers are remaining steady despite eight straight years of decline up until 2011, when they increased 3 percent in the 16- to 17-year-old age group.
While many people are more aware of the dangers of distracted driving and many efforts have been made to combat distractions for new drivers, such as the graduated driver license, the increase in deaths could signal that campaigns to combat distracted driving are waning. People across the country, including right here in Los Angeles, need to remember that preventing car accidents caused by distracted or impaired driving is the shared responsibility of everyone on the road.
Drivers need to devote their complete attention to driving when they are behind the wheel, not just time in between text messages. Although the report didn't specifically indicate a cause for the increase, a plateau in the effectiveness of anti-distracted driving campaigns could be part of the reason.
Source: USA Today, "Deaths surge among youngest drivers," Larry Copeland, Feb. 26, 2013
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