Teen driving deaths spike in Tri-State - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

Teen driving deaths spike in Tri-State

Authorities are worried about a spike in deaths among teen drivers in the Tri-State, specifically in Indiana and Kentucky, where the number of young drivers killed was in the double digits.

A study by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows that 16 young people were killed behind-the-wheel in Indiana in the first six months of last year, up by 13 from same time period a year before. In Kentucky, 12 teen drivers died during that same period, six more deaths than researchers had found the previous year.

Ohio wasn't much better. Nine young drivers were killed in the Buckeye State during the first half of 2012, compared with six the same period a year before.

In all, 25 states reported an increase in teen driver fatalities from a number of reasons.

"There needs to be teen driver education. That's something with our driving school that we work diligently to make sure that our drivers know that safety comes first," said AAA Spokesperson Cheryl Parker.

Parker also thinks there should be more restrictions for young drivers.

"When a teenager gets a driver's license, there needs to be restrictions during the first six month period as to when they can drive. There shouldn't be night time driving," argued Parker, who says that's when drivers are more likely to have an accident.

Sgt. Scott Bierer of the Ohio State Patrol says there are other reasons for teen fatalities, like bringing friends along for the ride.

"A lot of it is the number of occupants in the car. Every occupant increases 200% the chance you'll be in a traffic crash," said Bierer.

Researchers believe distracted driving may also be to blame now that smartphones and other gadgets are competing for teens' attention.

"I think the stats are 25% of the crashes, overall crashes, are from distracted driving. It's probably greater than that between the texting, like I said the other occupants in the vehicle, outside distractions, things like that," said Bierer.

On a positive note, the researchers say even though the number of deaths is climbing in the Tri-State, when you look at the data over decades in America, teen driver deaths are still at historic lows.

On Friday, Ohio begins enforcing a new law which bans texting and driving. Repeat violations by drivers under the age of 18 could lead to a driver's license suspension for one year.

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