Teen Driving Fatalities: Indiana is No. 1

Teen drivers in Indiana are at high risk of being involved in a traffic collision. justwatching.jpg

In fact, our Highland car accident lawyers understand it’s more dangerous for them here on our roads than anywhere else in the country. That’s not a scare tactic. That’s reality, according to a recent study by the Governors Highway Safety Association.

While Indiana tied with Tennessee in terms of the sheer number of teen driver fatalities in the first six months of 2012 (which totaled 16 for each state), Indiana was far higher in terms of the reported increase from the first six months of 2011.

While Tennessee saw its teen driver deaths spike from 6 to 16, here in Indiana, we went from 3 to 16. That is the biggest increase in the country. It’s not something we want to be known for as a state, and it’s certainly not a price we are willing to continue to pay.

Just last month, Indiana was given a mid-level “yellow light” rating by the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety in terms of our implemented highway safety initiatives. Two of the top safety measures we had yet to enact were graduated driver’s license restrictions that required teens to be at least 16 years-old in order to have a learner’s permit and a similar provision that would restrict teen drivers’ ability to operate a vehicle at night.

We would sincerely hope that such measures could gain significant support now that we have learned that we are without question the worst in the country when it comes to protecting our youthful drivers – and those who share the road with them.

The GHSA indicates that if the final 2012 statistics follow this same trend, it will be the second year in a row that we will have seen increases in teen driver fatalities nationwide. That is an extremely troubling prospect, especially as states had managed to reduce that figure every year prior since 2003.

Researchers say there are a number of reasons why we may be seeing this sharp increase. One is an improving economy. Of course, there are many great things about this, but lower gas prices, more jobs and pay increases inevitably mean that Americans – including teenagers – have more ability and opportunity to be on the roads in the first place.

But that’s not truly where we need to place the lion’s share of the blame. At the end of the day, it’s distraction, distraction, distraction. Teens who are talking and texting behind the wheel pose an enormous risk to themselves, their passengers and those in the vehicles around them. While the GHSA’s report focuses on fatalities, the fact is, traffic accident injuries stemming from teen distracted driving are numerous.

In fact, a recent study conducted by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration and Virginia Tech found that distracted driving accounted for an eye-popping 80 percent of all crashes, with 18 to 20 year-olds four times more likely to be involved in accidents overall.

Teens need to know that absolutely no text message, conversation or favorite song is worth dying for. In teaching your teen to avoid distractions behind the wheel, drive home the following points:

  • Don’t eat in the car.
  • Wait to mess with the controls, mirrors, heaters, and radio until you have come to a complete stop or are in park;
  • Don’t drive with friends in the car, if you can avoid it.
  • Keep your cell phone in your purse or tucked inside the counsel to avoid temptation.
  • Keep the radio volume to a minimum, otherwise you might risk a failure to hear emergency vehicles or other important roadway sounds – particularly if you’re driving in reduced visibility;
  • If something falls to the floor while you are driving, leave it. You can pick it up when you’re stopped;
  • Don’t try to read while you’re driving – that includes e-mail, internet surfing and text messages.

We can’t get back those precious young lives we’ve already lost, but we can make it a point to do everything in our power to prevent the same fatal errors from happening again and again.

Highland Injury Attorney Burton A. Padove represents accident victims throughout Northern Indiana, including Gary, Hammond and Calumet City. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:
Governors Highway Safety Association teen driving study, Feb. 26, 2013, Associated Press
More Blog Entries:
Indiana Car Accident in Creek Claims Three Lives, Feb. 15, 2013, Highland Car Accident Lawyer Blog