The Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released a report that revealed new teen driver deaths in passenger vehicles increased by 19 percent in 2012. To help parents and teen drivers deal with these disturbing new statistics, Drive Smart Georgia offers valuable safety tips to keep teens safe on the road.
All traffic deaths rose by 8 percent in 2012. It is particularly concerning that 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths appear to have increased at an even greater rate. Deaths of 16-year-old drivers increased 24%, while the number for 17-year-old driver deaths jumped 15%, a cumulative increase of 19 percent.
GHSA attributes much of the increase to the fact that the benefit of state Graduated Driver Licensing laws may be leveling off, as most of these laws have been in place for some time. Additionally, improving economic conditions are contributing to an increase in teen driving, thus increasing their exposure to risk. Dr. Williams, who conducted the report, notes, “It appears that we are headed the wrong direction when it comes to deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers.”
Dr. Williams stresses that while the news is certainly not good, deaths in this age group remain at a historically low level. He notes, “We are still at a much better place than we were ten 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.”
Dr. Barbara Harsha, Executive Director of GHSA, is concerned about the report and wants states to implement parent programs to keep their teens safe on the roads. She said, “Parents have a huge responsibility to ensure safe teen driving behavior. States can facilitate this by providing innovative programs that bring parents and teens together around this issue.” The full report, including state-by-state data, is available online at www.ghsa.org.
Georgia currently follows Joshua’s Law, which was enacted on January 1, 2007. It states that all 16 year-old drivers applying for a Class D driver’s license must complete an approved driver education course and complete a total of 40 hours of supervised driving, 6 hours which must be at night, with a parent or guardian’s sworn verification that these requirements have been met. Any Georgia resident who has not completed an approved driver education course must be at least 17 years old to be eligible for a Class D driver’s license. He or she must have completed a total of at least 40 hours of supervised driving, including at least 6 hours at night. The same verification in writing by a parent or guardian is required.
Drive Smart Georgia, which meets all the requirements of Joshua’s Law, offers the following safety tips for teen drivers and their concerned parents.
- The longest 500 miles for teens and parents: A teenager’s first 500 miles of driving are the most dangerous. During that time, they’re 10 times more likely to crash than an adult.
- No friends in the car for the first 6 months…by the way, it’s the law. The presence of one passenger doubles the fatal crash risk for a teen driver and the risk increases with each additional passenger, yet recent research shows that few teens recognize the impact passengers have on driver safety.
- 25% of accidents are caused by TEXTING. Put your cell phone down!
- Lead by example: Most teens follow similar driving habits of their parents. So, drive the speed limit, don’t use your cell phone (reading emails included, even at stop lights) and keep it safe on the road.
- Don’t let your teen drive whenever they want. Teens with easy access to a vehicle are more likely to crash than those who have to “ask for permission” and have a more structured approach.
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