Reducing teen driving fatalities

The United States has been working to reduce teen deaths in car crashes for the past decade. Unfortunately, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), teen-involved accident deaths rose 10 percent in 2015, the first increase since 2006. What can be done to keep this trend from continuing?

In a report issued last month, the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) examined teenagers and crash risk. They called upon states to expand the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program to all drivers under age 21 and also offer 11 recommendations for policies and best practices.

The GHSA study, Mission Not Accomplished: Teen Safe Driving, the Next Chapter, was made possible through a grant from the Ford Motor Company Fund. It examines crash data from the NHTSA from 2005 to 2014, comparing statistics between older and younger teens as well as differences by gender.

The results showed that teens ages 15-17 are staying safer on the roads than older teens ages 18 to 20. Also teenagers have 1.6 times more chance of getting into a deadly accident as adults. 

"This report drives home the message that there is still much to do to reduce teen driver fatal crashes and the resulting deaths," GHSA Executive Director Jonathan Adkins, who oversaw development of the report, said in a recent press release. "The increase in teen driver fatal crashes is concerning and states are keeping a watchful eye to see if this is the start of a reversal in the gains we've made over the past decade. We need to continue to support effective public policies that address this issue and make sure that all drivers under 21 years of age have access to programs that improve teen driver safety."

Some states, including California, have already starting implementing new policies based on this study - such as expansion the GDL and other programming to older teenagers.

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