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Report: Alabama Teen Driver Fatalities on the Rise

Feb 28, 2013 - Car Accidents, Tuscaloosa by

For all the ways that we have worked to improve the safety of new teen drivers, there is apparently much more to be done. sunsetinthemirror

A new report, based on preliminary 2012 data, indicates that Alabama saw a 9 percent spike in the number of teen driver fatalities in the first half of last year, as compared to the first half of 2011.

Our Tuscaloosa car accident attorneys find this deeply troubling, especially as local news reports seem to indicate anecdotally that the trend is nowhere near slowing.

According to Tuscaloosanews.com, just days ago, one teen died and three others were severely injured after the teen driver lost control of his vehicle and slammed into a tree. Investigators believe alcohol was a factor in the crash, though they are awaiting blood test results.

These are tragedies that, over and over again we find, do not need to happen.

The Governors Highway Safety Association report indicates Alabama was one of six states where the reported increase of teen driver fatalities from the first six months of 2011 compared to the first six months of 2012 was higher than five percent. That means what we’re seeing here is more than the average year-to-year fluctuations. This is a serious and growing problem.

Alabama reported 3 teen driver fatalities in the first six months of 2011. That figure shot up to 12 in the first six months of 2012. That actually puts us in the top five in the country (tied with Illinois and Kentucky) for the most fatal teen car accidents.

Although these increases follow a rapid decline of teen driver deaths from 2/?p=1007 to 2010, this trend reversal is anything but a positive sign. This is not a distinction we want and it’s one that we have a responsibility to change.

Researchers have several explanations for why the numbers might be up. They point to the improving economy, which has meant more teens have the financial means to be on the roads more frequently. But perhaps larger than that is the fact that teens aren’t wearing their seat belts, and even when they are, they are too often distracted – either by the cell phone, friends in the car, putting on make-up or text messaging.

We need to find ways to drive home the point that being distracted behind the wheel is not “cool,” and that messages and conversations can wait – or the consequences might be fatal.

While legislators take a look at what more can be done to enforce current teen driving restrictions and perhaps even propose new measures, teens should be held accountable by their parents for the following:

  • Texting or talking on the phone while driving;
  • Disobeying any traffic law;
  • Not wearing a seat belt;
  • Drinking and driving;
  • Losing their temper and being discourteous to others on the road; and
  • Not informing parents of where they are going or when they will be back.

Additional Resources:

Teenage Driver Fatalities by State, 2012 Preliminary Data, February 2013, By Governors Highway Safety Association

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