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Deaths of teen drivers increase, reversing decade decline

Deaths of teen drivers increased during the first six months of 2012, a new study says. Deaths of teen drivers had been declining since 2000.

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Deaths of teen drivers increased in the first half of 2012, a new study says, reversing the downward trend seen since 2000. Student driver Kaitlin Kearns of Yellow Springs, Ohio, a 15-year-old Chaminade Julienne High School Student, takes a driving lesson Jan. 24, 2012.

Associated Press

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Deaths of younger teen drivers increased sharply in the first six months of last year, reversing a decade-long trend, according to a report released Tuesday by state highway safety officials.

Deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers in traffic accidents in the first six months of 2012 were up a combined 19 percent over the same period in the previous year, according to the report from the Governors Highway Safety Association.

There were 107 drivers aged 16 who died between January and June of last year, compared to 86 drivers during the first half of 2011.

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

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.

Twenty-five states reported increases, 17 had decreases, and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change in the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths.

"Despite our efforts, teens remain our most vulnerable population," said Kendall Poole, head of the Tennessee highway safety office and chairman of the safety association. "With the advances in technology, we suspect distracted driving deaths among teen drivers are rising."

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