Tennessee leads nation in teen driver deaths

According to a recent report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Tennessee leads the nation in the number of teen driver deaths. According to the report, 16 teen drivers (16 and-17-year-old) drivers died during the first half of 2012. This is more than double the number of teen drivers who were killed a year earlier during the same time period.

About the report

The report examined nationwide car accident data-while excluding pedestrian and bicycle accidents-provided by all 50 states for the first six months of 2012. Although Tennessee and Indiana are the two states that lead the nation in teen driver deaths, the report found that they are not the only states that saw increases in teen driver fatalities. According to the data, 25 states reported increases between 2011 and 2012. Additionally 17 states showed decreases and eight were unchanged.

Nationwide, the number of 16 and 17-year-old drivers killed during the first half of 2012 climbed 19 percent over the same period in 2011, increasing from 202 to 240. The number of deaths in this age group showed the highest rate of increase of all age groups during this time. Unfortunately, according to the report's researchers, if the number of deaths continues to increase at the same rate for the rest of 2012, it would reverse eight steady years of decline.

Why are the deaths increasing?

Although the report did not provide reasons specific to Tennessee, the study's author hypothesized that there are two reasons for the increase in teen driver deaths nationwide. The first reason is the improving economy. During the recent recession, the costs of owning and operating a car may have deterred teens from driving. However, with the return of better economic times, teens have more discretionary income, which may encourage them to take to the roads, exposing them to the risk of a car accident.

The second reason that the report gave for the increase in deaths is a leveling off effect of graduated drivers licensing laws. Such laws were passed to protect teens that are learning to drive. Tennessee's law does this by restricting when and with whom they can drive.

The study's author theorized that since such laws were passed 15 or more years ago, their beneficial effect might be leveling off. The author suggests that states need to pass stronger graduated license laws to address modern problems affecting teen drivers such as distracted driving.

Consult an attorney

Authorities in Tennessee attribute the increase in teen deaths to their failure to wear seat belts and their propensity to drive while texting or using a cellphone. Unfortunately, such behavior puts themselves and others at a needless risk of harm.

If you or a loved one have been injured by a careless driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney. An attorney can work to hold the responsible party accountable for their actions.