Fatal car accidents have increased among teenagers in Massachusetts, following the national trend that has seen the number of teens killed in car accidents continue to increase.
The number of 16 and 17-year-olds involved in fatal car accidents increased from 2011 to 2012, with 240 deaths reported during the first six months of 2012, compared to 202 in 2011, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association. The 19 percent increase teen driver fatalities is troubling to safety groups because they have been trying to raise awareness among teenagers about the dangers of distracted driving and other dangerous driving behaviors.
Why have fatal car accidents increased among younger drivers? Researchers believe that the economy has played a role in the increase in fatal accidents, stating that when the economy is better, more people are on the roads. In addition, researchers said when the economy improves people tend to drive faster and for longer distances, which increases the risk of being in an accident.
While this might explain part of the increase in fatal crashes involving teens, researchers pointed to teens using more technology in their lives as the main contributing factor. Distracted driving is an issue for all drivers but studies have shown that teen drivers are more likely to use their cellphones while driving despite the dangers it poses.
Safety groups said they will continue to raise awareness around the dangers of using a cellphone while driving, along with other unsafe driving behaviors such as speeding, not wearing your seat belt and being distracted by passengers in the vehicle.
Many safety groups aimed at education teens about safe driving say that they recommend students put away their cellphones and keep them out of reach while driving so they are not tempted to start using their cellphone.
Source: WGGB, "Teen Driver Deaths Increase in 2012," Feb. 26, 2013