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Teen driving deaths still grim but down in California, nationally

Working with the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, one insurance company just issued its second-annual analysis of fatal motor vehicle accidents among teen drivers. The new report covers the five-year period between 2007 and 2011, while last year’s report covered the five years between 2006 and 2010.

The report looked for trends in the rate of fatal motor vehicle accidents in which teen drivers, or any passengers between the ages of 16 and 19, were killed. The great news is that that the number of those deaths dropped an astonishing 12 percent or so between 2007 and 2011, which the insurer attributes largely to graduated driver’s licensing laws.

The fact is, however, that almost 16,000 kids in this age group died in motor vehicle accidents over that period. Worse, the fatal accident rate for teens is still 35 percent higher than it is for those 20 and older. And, while the latest complete data available is for 2011, preliminary data collected by the Governors Highway Safety Association for the first six months of 2012 indicates the fatal accident may be creeping back up.

California moved up from having the sixth-lowest teen death rate under the to 2006 to 2010 data to fourth-lowest in this year’s report. The other regions that were among the five with the lowest fatal accident rates include Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Washington D.C. Those with the worst rates were Wyoming, Montana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia.

“The bottom line is that one death is too many,” said a spokesperson for the insurance company. “Tens of thousands of teen injuries and deaths happen on the road every year and car crashes remain the leading cause of death for this age group.”

The insurer’s report is part of an effort to get teens to encourage safer driving among their peers, in a program that provides prizes for schools and teen participants.

Source: Claims Journal, “Though Teen Driving Deaths Declining, Crashes Top Cause of Teen Deaths: Erie Insurance,” Sept. 24, 2013

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