Teen driving deaths on rise in AZ; cell phones partly to blame?

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by Stella Inger

azfamily.com

Posted on February 26, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Updated Thursday, Feb 28 at 9:57 AM

PHOENIX -- It's scary news for parents of teens. A new report shows that deaths of younger teen drivers increased sharply in the first six months of last year.

As Good Morning Arizona's Stella Inger told us, the report released Tuesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers in traffic accidents in the first six months of 2012, were up 19 percent over the same period in 2011.

In Arizona, nine young teen driver deaths were reported in a six month period in 2012. That's up from only two young teen driver deaths in the same period in 2011.

Researchers say it's difficult to know exactly why teen driving deaths are on the rise. But many think it has a lot to do with distracted driving, like talking on cell phones, like talking on the phone, texting, and riding with too many passengers in the car.

The president of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety says these new numbers should motivate lawmakers to pass stronger teen driving laws...

Here in Arizona, a new bill could make it illegal for young Arizona drivers to use their cell phones behind the wheel.. It's headed to the senate for a vote. It would ban teens from texting until they've had their license for six months.

The Governors Highway Safety Association report says that there were 107 drivers aged 16 who died between January and June of last year, compared to 86 drivers during the first half of 2011.

"Despite our efforts, teens remain our most vulnerable population," said Kendall Poole, head of the Tennessee highway safety office and chairman of the safety association. "With the advances in technology, we suspect distracted driving deaths among teen drivers are rising."

"We are still at a much better place than we were 10 or even five years earlier," said researcher Allan Williams, the report's author and former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "However, the goal is to strive toward zero deaths, so our aim would be that these deaths should go down every year."

A state-by-state breakdown of teen driving death statistics is available on the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) website.

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