New York City car accident attorneys are concerned by the latest data released by the Governors Highway Safety Association, indicating that teen driver deaths spiked by nearly 20 percent last year.
The report focused on 16- and 17-year-old drivers and their fatality rates in the first six months of 2011 compared to the first six months of 2012. This is a markedly sharper increase than what we saw from 2010 to 2011, when we saw an 11.5 percent increase.
Given that this information comes to us as teens and young adults are excitedly making their last-minute spring break preparations, a warning is timely.
While New York State overall saw a decline in its teen driver fatalities during the research period (from 4 to 2), we must remember that this is not an overall reflection of the number of deaths. It is only a fraction of deaths and/or injuries caused by teen drivers who run into trouble either because they are inexperienced or acting recklessly.
These figures also don’t account for the fact that New York teens may have been injured or killed in a vehicle outside the state. This is particularly relevant when we’re talking about spring break, when many students drive out-of-town to the Carolinas or Florida to escape the snow.
For this reason, it’s unsurprising that North Carolina and Florida have historically had some of the highest teen driver fatalities in the country.
Obviously, though, spring break isn’t the only time – or reason – we’re seeing more teen fatalities.
Researchers are chalking up some of the increase to an improving economy, in which teens are more likely to land after-school jobs. Gas prices are also down, which means they are more able to afford to travel.
Another theory regarding the increase is that there is a leveling off of the benefits we reaped with graduated driver’s license programs. New York, thankfully, is among those states with some of the better GDL laws, making learner’s permits accessible only to 16-year-olds, prohibiting nighttime driving after 9 p.m. and before 5 a.m., limiting passengers to no more than one under the age of 21 and bestowing full driving privileges to 17-year-olds only after they have completed driver’s education courses. Otherwise, drivers can’t get full privileges until they are 18.
Although New York has bucked the trend and noted a decrease in teen driver deaths, even one is too many.
As we approach spring break, prom and graduation festivities, parents should take time to talk through the risks with young drivers. They need to know they aren’t invincible.
If they are driving out-of-town with friends for spring break, encourage them to:
- Map out a route ahead of time;
- Plan for plenty of breaks along the way;
- Take turns driving;
- Pull over if they feel too tired;
- Never get behind the wheel after drinking;
- Obey all traffic laws – including speed limits;
- Stay off the phone while driving;
- Have your passenger look up the directions if you get lost;
- Have passengers keep boisterous conversations to a minimum to limit distractions.
The Law Offices of Nicholas Rose, PLLC offers free consultations. Call 1-877-313-7673.
Teenage Driver Fatalities By State, 2012 Preliminary Data, Governors Highway Safety Association, By Dr. Allan Williams
More Blog Entries:
New York Traffic Fatality Prevention Laws Ahead of the Curve, Jan. 22, 2013, New York City Personal Injury Lawyer Blog