Teen deaths in motor vehicle accidents increase

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Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. After nearly a decade of decline, teen deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents increased during the first half of 2011, according to data collected and released by the Governors Highway Safety Association.  As a result, Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, has called upon Congress to implement financial incentives for states that have strengthened or will strengthen teen driving laws.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics reveal that teenaged males account for more than 65 percent of teen deaths caused by motor vehicle accidents.  The statistics also show that teenagers were almost twice as likely to die in night-time motor vehicle accidents.

Earlier this month, Congress was asked to provide $330 million to fund programs designed to reduce distracted driving. A recent Pew Research Center survey provided alarming statistics that demonstrate the prevalence of  distracted teenaged drivers on the roadways.  According to the survey, 43 percent of teenagers admit to using a cellphone while driving; 48 percent reported that they have been a passenger in a vehicle operated by a driver who was texting behind the wheel; and 40 percent responded that they had been a passenger in a car driven by a driver who was using a cellphone in a dangerous manner.

Source: The Washington Post, “Teen deaths in car crashes climb,” Ashley Halsey III, Feb. 17, 2012.