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Tuesday, February 26, 2013 - 1:29pm

Fewer GA Teen Drivers Die On The Road

The Governor’s Highway Safety Association found that driver deaths among 16- and 17-year-olds increased 19 percent nationwide for the first six months of 2012.

That’s according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. Deputy director Jonathan Adkins says one reason may be the improvement in the economy.

He says “When families have a little more disposable income there’s more money for teens to drive and to have a car. With the economy and the jobless situation getting a little bit better, teens may have part-time jobs to go to now. It’s also possible that driver distraction is playing a role. Teens love their cell phones, and too often they’re using them behind the wheel.”

But in Georgia, the number of such deaths dropped slightly. Harris Blackwood, director of the Governors Office of Highway Safety, says one reason may be that fewer 16 year olds are getting drivers licenses. He says more are taking their time with a learning permit.

“They either have to have drivers training or 40 hours behind the wheel of the car. And we believe that there’s not that mad rush that happened in my generation that on your 16th birthday you were rushing down to get that driver’s license. Now they’re making sure they’re prepared. They have to have that training. They have to document that.”he says.

In the first six months of 2011, six teen drivers died on Georgia’s roads. During the same period in 2012, the number fell to five.

Harris Blackwood says Governor Nathan Deal has appointed 22 teens from across the state to make recommendations through a drivers’ commission.

He says “They’re looking at texting and driving. They’re looking at other distractions in the car, as well as, we’re seeing a problem with seat belt usage among young people.”

The commission’s report is due in March.

Jonathan Adkins with the national Governor’s Highway Safety Association says Georgia could do more:

“Not starting licensure til age 16. You start partial licensure at 15 now. Another area for improvement would be to more strongly restrict nighttime driving. As it stands now, new drivers are able to drive up until midnight.”

The increase in teen driver deaths mirrors a projected nationwide 8 percent jump in all traffic deaths.

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