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U.S. Teen Driving Deaths Up: Report
Date:2/16/2012

THURSDAY, Feb. 16 (HealthDay News) -- The number of American teens who lost their lives in car accidents jumped 11 percent in the first half of 2011, the first increase in eight years, a new report finds.

Although overall traffic fatalities fell during the first half of 2011, deaths for 16- and 17-year-olds rose from 190 to 211, according to the report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA).

"While it is not a surprise that these numbers are stabilizing or slightly increasing, states should not accept these deaths as something that cannot be prevented. More work can and should be done to save teen lives," report author Allan Williams, formerly the chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said in a GHSA statement.

To compile the report, Williams pored over data from GHSA member groups.

At the same time, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released numbers suggesting that total motor vehicle deaths for people of any age during the first six months of 2011 had dropped 0.9 percent.

However, in the GHSA report, deaths among 16-year-old drivers went up from 80 to 93 (a 16 percent rise), while deaths among 17-year-olds rose from 110 to 118 (7 percent).

Among the states, 23 reported jumps in teen traffic deaths, 19 states had decreases and eight states plus the District of Columbia saw no change, according to the report.

Although for most states the increases in teen traffic deaths was small, for Florida, Texas and North Carolina, there were significant increases, Williams found.

GHSA chairman Troy Costales noted in the statement: "While it is good news that overall deaths [for people of any age] appear to have declined during the first six months of 2011, we are concerned that the trend with teens is going in the opposite direction."

Williams speculated that much of the increase may be due to the leveling off of initial benefits
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