US teens driving less but fatalities have increased

Editors note: Peter Jacobsen sent this to me for the blog along with the observation that he thought the US and NZ were the only industrialized countries that permit 16 to 18 year old drivers. (Not sure if he meant 16 in one country and 18 in the other, but readers can comment whether he is correct or not). The moral of this story is that teens appear to be driving less and less exposure should  mean fewer deaths and injuries. But I find it hard to believe that smart phones are the reason for reduced driving. What do you think?

The report by Hirsch in the LA times notes that 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased by 19% jump from the same period in the previous year, “marking a reversal in declining teen driver death rates attributed to the introduction of graduated license systems in many states. ” To put this in context, there was an 8% increase in all traffic deaths during the same period, attributed to increased driving as a reflection of the improved economy. The article quotes Allan Williams of IIHS (and former editorial board member)
   “Based on 2011 final data and the early look at 2012, it appears that we are headed the wrong direction when it comes to deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers”.  The report adds that “even with the increase, driver death rates in this age group are about half of what they were a decade ago and remain at a historically low level.”

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