See the link below for an interesting story from yesterday’s Oregonian on a new study focusing on teen driving fatalities nationwide. The good news: Oregon and Washington “are among the nation’s safest states for 16- and 17-year-old drivers, according to a new report by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).” The bad news: nationwide, teen driving deaths rose significantly during the first half of 2012.
In an effort to tackle popular misconceptions, the newspaper notes that: “Among road users, aging drivers are often thought to be the biggest hazard. But teen motorists are less experienced and (are) on the road more frequently, experts say.”
Oregon recorded just one teen driving fatality during the first six months of 2012 (the period covered by the study), compared with none during the comparable period in 2011. In Washington the year-to-year difference was dramatic: no fatalities among 16 and 17-year-olds from January through June of 2012 compared to 16 in 2011. Nationally, 240 16- and 17-year-olds died in crashes during the first half of 2012, compared with 202 the year before, a 19 percent increase.
When asked to explain the significant increase in teen fatalities from one year to the next, the paper quotes the GHSA’s president offering a straightforward explanation: “we suspect distracted driving deaths among teen drivers are rising.”
As a Portland distracted driving attorney I have written frequently about the particular dangers that cellphones, texting and other distractions pose when one is behind the wheel. The important thing for everyone – not just teens – to understand is the effect that one’s own recklessness can have on the wider community. Like any other form of negligent conduct, distracted driving poses a danger not only to the driver and his or her passengers but to everyone else on the road. This ripple effect is one of the reasons why distracted driving laws like the one we have here in Oregon have spread so rapidly throughout the country over the last six or eight years. Distracted driving laws are designed to protect everyone on the road, and not merely to save potentially irresponsible drivers from themselves.
Governors Highway Safety Association: Teenage Driver Fatalities by State