CDC Report Says Teen Traffic Deaths Down Dramatically

Posted on behalf of Stewart Bell, PLLC on Oct 22, 2010 in Car Accidents

Just in time for the end of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's National Teen Driver Safety Week, a new report shows that the number of fatal car accident s involving teenaged drivers declined significantly from 2004 to 2008. During 2008 in West Virginia, there were 9 fatal crashes for every 100,000 drivers aged 16 or 17 -- down from 13 crashes in 2004 and a high of 15 in 2006.

The study was conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System. While National Teen Driver Safety Week targets drivers up through the age of 21, the CDC's data was limited to drivers aged 16 or 17. Still, the limit provided plenty of data: In the five years studied, there were 9,600 accidents and more than 11,000 deaths.

Nationally, the number of fatal teen accidents dropped 33 percent from 2004 to 2008. Wyoming topped the list, with a five-year annualized rate of 60 traffic deaths per 100,000 drivers. New York and New Jersey had the lowest rates, logging about 10 per 100,000. West Virginia's five-year rate was 27 deaths.

While the CDC credits factors like safer cars and safer roads with the decrease, others believe the decline is the result of stricter laws that limit driving privileges for teens. Over the past 15 years, states like New York and New Jersey have enacted laws that remove teens -- especially younger teens -- from the riskiest situations.

Graduated driver's licensing is the law in 49 states, though the restrictions vary by state. New York is particularly strict: The state doesn't let kids drive until they're 18. South Carolina, the lone holdout for graduated licensing, allows teens to drive at 15. Some states bar teens from driving with passengers that are teen-aged or younger. There are also laws that restrict driving at night, past 9 or 11 p.m.

Of the deaths reported during the period, 37 percent were the drivers themselves, 31 percent were passengers in those cars; 18 percent and 7 percent were drivers and passengers, respectively of other vehicles.

Resource: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention "Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Crashes -- United States, 2004-2008" 10/22/10

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