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Statistics on teenage driving fatalities take negative turn

Statistics are out for the first six months of 2011 on fatal automobile accidents, and the numbers are not good. For the first time in eight years, it looks like the number of teenagers killed in accidents has increased.

The numbers are basically the same for Maryland between the first half of 2011 compared with the first half of 2010 -- there was one more teen fatality in early 2011 than the same period in the year before. However, the trends nationwide show numbers going up among 16- and 17-year-olds.

There are many potential reasons for this; one of them might be the availability of technology. According to a study, almost half of teens said they have been in a car with a driver who was texting on a cell phone while driving, and 43 percent said they have talked on a cell phone while they themselves were driving.

Experts said that improved economic conditions may have led to more teenage drivers on the roads. Some authorities said that there needs to be more research on school start times to see if it would cut down on the number of teenage drivers who drive while fatigued.

Other solutions to help stem the tide of teenage highway fatalities include aiming more messages about distracted driving and the use of seat belts at teenage drivers. President Obama recently announced a $330 million initiative to combat distracted driving, but as anyone who has spent time around a teenager will tell you, they may need to be reminded more than once.

Source: The Washington Post, "Teen deaths in car crashes climb," Ashley Halsey III, Feb. 17, 2012

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