They had been declining for the previous 8 years.
It's a very disturbing trend. The Governor's Highway Safety Association reports that teenage driver deaths increased by 11% during the first half of 2011. This jump comes following eight years of declines.
Maryland also saw an increase in teen driver deaths between January and June of last year. "The number of 16 and 17-year-old driver deaths was actually up in Maryland by one," says AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Averella. During the same time in 2010, Averella says there were no teenage driver deaths in the state.
She says this increase comes, despite the Graduated Driver's License program initiated and upgraded in Maryland over the past few years. "We're thinking that possibly the positive affects of those GD laws and law upgrades, that actually went into affect in 1996 to 2010, may actually be leveling off a bit since most of those laws have now been in place for some time," Averella says.
She says the improving economy may also be a factor. "More teens may be on the roads now compared to the 2008 and 2009 period," says Averella.
Despite this gloomy news, AAA says parents can help reverse this trend by being good role models for their teenage children. "Avoid distractions, first and foremost," Averella says. That includes no talking on cell phones, and no changing the radio station while driving. In addition, make sure "everyone in their car is wearing a seatbelt," she continues.
The auto club also says mom and dad should continue to be involved with their children as they improve their driving skills, even after they graduate from a learner's permit to a provisional license. "Limit the number of other teen passengers in the cars with them. Limit their night time driving," Averella says.