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Distracted Driving: Texting Related To Higher Teen Fatality Rate

According to a national safety organization, teenage drivers were involved in significantly more fatal accidents last year. The Governors Highway Safety Association and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are reporting big surges in fatal accidents - meaning that 2012 will likely be the second consecutive year to record a big increase.

So far, the data shows that 240 16- and 17-year-old drivers died in highway accidents in just the first six months of 2012. The same period in 2011 only saw 202 fatal car accidents involving teenagers. This means that 2012 saw19 percent more teenagers die in car accidents. According to data from the NHTSA, the overall rate of fatal accidents only rose by eight percent.

While one factor behind these increases is likely the improved economy that is allowing teenagers to travel more, other experts are attributing part of the problem to texting and other phone-related distractions. The GHSA's chairman, Kendell Poole, said that "with the advances in technology, we suspect distracted driving deaths among teen drivers are rising."

Distracted driving is likely even more dangerous for teenagers for two reasons. First, teenagers spend more time than any other age group on mobile phones - they increasingly stay in touch with friends and family through text messages. Second, teen drivers lack the judgment and experience to recognize the dangers of texting. When something does go wrong, they often do not have the skills to respond appropriately.

Source: USA Today, "Deaths Surge Among Teen Drivers," Larry Copeland, Feb. 26, 2013

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