The Governors Highway Safety Association recently released a report with deeply troubling statistics.
Our Montgomery car accident lawyers understand that teen driver deaths were up nearly 20 percent in the first six months of 2012 (as compared to the same time frame in 2011). Alabama saw one of the greatest increases of all, with a 400 percent rise in the number of these tragedies.
The study was conducted by researcher Dr. Allan Williams, formerly the chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Fatality figures were collected for every state and Washington D.C.
The increase wasn’t entirely unexpected, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had predicted that there would be a roughly 8 percent increase in the number of overall traffic deaths. However, the fact that we have 16- and 17-year-olds dying at an even more rapid rate is alarming.
And the fact that Alabama saw such a sharp increase – from 3 deaths from January through June 2011 to 12 in the same time frame in 2012 – leaves us deeply saddened. It also fuels our commitment to raising awareness of this issue, especially as we head into spring break, prom and graduation celebrations – all of which have historically been prime times for drunk driving, distracted driving and drowsy driving for teenagers.
Alabama was one of just six states in the country that saw such an alarming increase.
Researchers say part of the problem could be that the benefit we saw as a result of enacting graduated drivers licensing programs are beginning to level off, having been in place for a few years now.
Another factor is likely the improvement in the economy. At the height of the recession, teens were competing for low-wage, entry-level jobs with older adults with more experience. These lack of opportunities and income meant teens had less gas money so they weren’t on the road as much. Now that we’re beginning to see a shift, they are on the road more often, and that’s more opportunities for crashes.
Some of those with a bit of extra income may likely be gearing up for spring break. For many, that could mean several-hour stretches on the road (which can lead to drowsy driving) with a handful of friends in the car (ample distraction).
Prom and graduation too are times when we tend to see increased risk, often due to drunk driving.
One thing that the GHSA noted that several other states are doing is hosting brief parent orientations to driver’s education courses for teens. This is something Alabama doesn’t do, but in light of the increase, it’s certainly something we feel would be worth exploring.
Another point that really needs to be driven home to teenagers is that distracted driving is a deadly serious concern. It’s gained a lot of attention from the media in recent years, and we worry that teens are becoming numb to it. Yet distracted driving continues to be a very real problem, especially among teens.
Last year, Alabama legislators enacted a ban on texting while driving, so we hope that year-end figures may reflect a decline as a result.
But parents can and should remain involved. First, there are a number of apps, both for iOS and Android phones that will lock the text and other functions if the vehicle is moving faster than 10 miles per hour. Also being a good example and following through when your child breaks the rules can be quite effective.
Call Allred & Allred P.C. at 334.396.9200 to speak with a Montgomery personal injury attorney today.
New Study: Teen Driver Deaths Increase in 2012, Feb. 26, 2013, Press Release, Governors Highway Safety Association
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