• BREAKING NEWS ABC shows live and on-demand -- Download the WATCH ABC app!

Teen driver deaths increase sharply, according to report

Kerry Arnold, 16, of Mission Hills and his passenger are seen in this photo from Tuesday, Feb. 26, 2013.

February 26, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
After a decade-long trend of fewer teen driver deaths, a new report released by state highway safety officials says that number rose sharply in the first six months of 2012.

Deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers in traffic accidents in that period were up a combined 19 percent over the same period in the previous year, according to a Governors Highway Safety Association report.

There were 107 deaths of 16-year-old drivers between January and June of 2012, compared to 86 drivers during the first half of 2011.

Deaths of drivers aged 17 rose from 116 in the first half of 2011 to 133 in the first half of last year.

In all, 25, states reported increases in teen driver deaths, 17 had decreases and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change in the number of deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers. The report is based on preliminary state data that sometimes changes. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to release more definitive data later this year.

Kerry Arnold, 16, of Mission Hills, says he believes technology and inexperience may be to blame.

"I think it's a lot of the texting, but the less experienced, they're not used to it, they're not behind the wheel all the time," the boy said.

Thomas Milewski, manager of operations at Driver's Ed Direct, agrees with Arnold's distracted-driving theory, saying cellphones are the biggest culprit.

"Kids have grown up with it," Milewski said. "For us, when we got in the car, at least for me, you just turn the radio on. They have now a multitude of items to go to and everybody is doing it, but still a big spike from one year to the next, that's still a little troubling."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Load Comments