Teen traffic fatalities up in West Virginia and across the country

After almost 10 years of improving statistics, the number of teen drivers killed in motor vehicle accidents in West Virginia and across the country rose during the first half of 2012. According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of 16- and 17-year-old drivers who died on U.S. roads dropped during the period from 2000 to 2010.

In fact, the number of 16-year-old drivers killed on the road during that time dropped by around 66 percent, while the number of 17-year-olds fell by over 50 percent. During the first six months of 2012, that trend reversed course, leading some to wonder if states need to take more action to protect teens on the road.

West Virginia was one of 25 states that saw an increase in the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver fatalities from January through June 2012. Across the country, the number of teen drivers killed during that time rose 19 percent. In total, 240 drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 died in motor vehicle accidents in the U.S. during the first half of 2012, according to the Governors Highway Safety Association report.

Experts have speculated about the reasons for the increase in teen fatalities. According to the former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the improving economy is likely partially to blame. Teenagers tend to be more heavily affected by downturns in the economy and rising gas prices, as their finances are typically more restricted.

In addition, some point to the fact that the benefits seen from graduated driver's licenses are no longer making a significant impact on the number of teen traffic fatalities. As a result, West Virginian legislators are looking for new ways to prevent injuries and fatalities on the road.

W.Va. Bill Calls For Drug Tests Before Teens Can Get Driver's License

Recently, a bill was introduced in the West Virginia House of Delegates that would impose additional restrictions on teenagers before they are allowed to get their driver's licenses. The bill would require teens to take three drug tests at different times before obtaining a license.

The drug tests would be required at different stages of the licensing process - before receiving:

  • A learner's permit
  • An intermediate license
  • A full driver's license

Some legislators have pointed out that the law would not prevent teens from driving while under the influence of drugs, but would merely require them to abstain from use for a few days before being tested. The proposed law follows a seeming trend in West Virginia at the moment, to require more individuals to submit to drug testing.

If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident involving a teen driver, consulting with a skilled personal injury attorney will ensure your rights are protected