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Teen Driver Deaths Decreasing in Georgia: Improvement over National Numbers

It would seem that Georgia’s recent spate of traffic laws (especially those laws involving the required usage of seat belts and banning texting while driving) is experiencing a decent amount of success. In fact, statistics show that there was a sharp and marked decrease in the number of young motorists who perished in car accidents last year. Unfortunately, however, while this is good news for the state, Georgia’s numbers regarding teen deaths due to car crashes simultaneously provide a definite contrast to those of the nation.

Nationally, the amount of teen driver deaths is on the rise. According to a government report released February 26th of this year, says the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC), teen deaths “increased sharply across the nation for the first six months of 2012.”

The AJC article also shared with readers some fairly interesting, and contrasting numbers. Researcher Dr. Allan Williams conducted the state-by-state analysis of teen driver deaths. He suggests to the AJC that he “attributes much of the [nationwide] increase to the leveling off of state driving programs, and the fact that more teens are driving due to an improved economy.”

Newly licensed teen drivers are especially susceptible to the dangers of the road. Another study, this one conducted in 2012 by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, appears to attribute distracted driving as a significant factor – with the use of an electronic device being one of the top culprits. Interestingly enough, female teenagers were twice as likely to be caught using such devices than males. Also listed in the study are lesser-known distracted driver behaviors including “adjusting controls, eating or drinking, personal hygiene, reading, turning around, reaching for an object, and communicating with someone outside the vehicle.”

With the advent of the motorized car and its increased popularity as a primary mode of transportation, instances of distracted driving have also been on the rise. Technological advances have served to only compound the problem. All it takes it one second with your eyes off of the road for a car accident to occur.

In fact, it has become so large an issue that many teenagers themselves are starting to clamor for stricter reforms. Last fall, a group of 21 teens in Georgia as appointed to start a group dubbed Georgia’s Commission on Teen Driving, with the aim of recommending tougher teen driving laws to the legislature. It is currently the only commission of its kind in the United States.

Although the overall number of teen deaths attributable to car accidents in Georgia has dropped, the group told the AJC that car crashes remain the number one cause of teen deaths. Like many Atlanta car accident attorneys, the group feels that enforcement of current laws is a big part of the problem. To the AJC, one member noted that oftentimes officials cannot tell the difference between a motorist who is texting or driving, which results in a significant impediment to the success of the state’s three year old ban on texting while driving.

Before the conclusion of the current legislative session, the commission advocated things like “better driver education and a graduated series of penalties for repeat violations of the texting law, with penalties that included community service rather than fines. Fines frequently get paid by mom and dad, but community service does not, they explained.” Unfortunately, however, none of their recommendations were picked up during the current session.

The end of the session does not mark the end of their efforts, though. They plan to keep pushing through to the next legislative session.