In the GHSA report, it was reported that the number of drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 dying in car accidents is on a slight increase over the first 6 months of 2011. Overall, the teen deaths have gone from 190 to 211, which translates to an 11% increase. Broken down, we saw the number of 16 year old deaths rise to 93 from 80, or 16% and 17 year old deaths increase to 118 from 110, or 7%. If this increase continues over to the last half of 2011, we would see the end of 8 straight years of decline for deaths in this age group.
These figures come from travel in passenger vehicles and on preliminary data from all 50 states as well as the District of Columbia over the first 6 months of 2011.
There are a few speculations as to why we are seeing this increase. One being that the benefits of state Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws may be leveling off, since many of these laws have been in place for quite some time now. The economic conditions have also been improving, which may be contributing to increasing teen driving, increasing their risk on the road.
There are also some ideas on how to improve these statistics. As a result of the upcoming highway reauthorization bill, Congress could give financial incentives to states that have strengthened or has plans that will strengthen their teen driving laws. Congress could also provide funding for research and support demonstration projects so the NHTSA can investigate and determine the best ways to promote seat belt use and GDL law compliance with teen drivers. Additionally, Congress could also provide funding directly to the NHTSA and the states to enact distracted driving campaigns directed towards teen drivers.