Teens are a closely watched group of drivers. Many times teens that are just starting to drive get behind the wheel with their friends, cell phones and a large boost of confidence in their increased responsibilities. These three things can be a deadly combination. Teens often overestimate their ability to handle fast speeds and multitask behind the wheel. To combat this, many states have adopted a form of the graduated driver license. This added restrictions for new drivers and may have helped produce eight straight years of declines in the number of teen driving deaths up until 2011.
Last year, the percentage of teen driving deaths skyrocketed in the first six months. Data from the last half of the year is still being calculated, but if the trend spread through the entire year, it would mean two years of increases. Not only did teen deaths increase last year, but so did deaths of all aged drivers. The increase might be because of distracted driving from increased cell phone use, but also from more people being on the road because of increased job availability and more teens can afford to drive places.
When on the road, drivers need to remember that their primary responsibility is to concentrate on driving. There shouldn't be any secondary responsibilities. Texting, arguing with siblings, or changing songs on their smart phone shouldn't be performed while driving. All of these things increase the time a person has their eyes off the road.
These new data show that the positive effects of the graduated driver license may have reached its potential. All drivers share the responsibility in keeping the roads safe.
Source: USA Today, "Deaths surge among youngest drivers," Larry Copeland, Feb. 26, 2013
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