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South Dakota’s Teen Driving Fatal Crash Rates Drops

FILE: Car Accident, Fatal Accident, Car Crash
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(NPN) — South Dakota’s teen driving death rate has decreased, according to a new study.

Nationally, teen driving deaths have also decreased, according to Erie Insurance’s second annual state-by-state comparison of teen driving death rates.

Nearly 16,000 16- to 19-year-olds died in car crashes with another teen behind the wheel from 2007 to 2011. On average, that’s 2,000 fewer teen deaths from the previous five-year period (2006-2010), but the per capita fatal crash rate for this age group remains 35 percent higher than for drivers ages 20 and older. The 2007-2011 range is the most recent five-year period for which data is available.

South Dakota’s teen driving death rates decreased from 28.0 to 22.7 during the reporting periods. South Dakota also dropped from having the 10th worst rate in 2006-2010 to 15th worst in 2007-2011.

Among regional states, North Dakota had the eighth worst teen crash death rate at 24.6 and Minnesota had the seventh best rate at 9.9.

The deadliest months for teen drivers in S.D. are September and October. The deadliest day is Saturday, according to the study.

Erie Insurance worked with the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to examine crash data from the U.S. Department of Transportation to show state-by-state comparisons of teen crash death rates when teens are behind the wheel.

Wyoming, Montana, Mississippi, Alabama and West Virginia had the highest rates of deaths with teens behind the wheel. The District of Columbia, New York, New Jersey, California and Massachusetts had the lowest rates.

Tennessee moved into the list of the top 10 states with the highest death rates with South Dakota moving off. The top 10 states with the lowest death rates remained the same, although some rankings shifted.

Increasing the age teens can get a driver licensing appears to be a factor in the improved numbers, Erie Insurance claims. IIHS notes that state graduated driver licensing laws have helped reduce teen crash rates significantly in recent years, but these laws vary in strength. Erie Insurance says research shows that every state could reduce its teen crash rate by adopting stronger GDL laws.

While the study shows good news overall, preliminary numbers for the first half of 2012 show an uptick in the teen driving death rate.

“While our numbers show the average teen driving death rate from 2006-2011 trending down, we’ve also seen preliminary data from the Governors Highway Safety Association showing the 2012 rate creeping up,” said Karen Kraus Phillips, vice president at Erie Insurance. “The bottom line is that one death is too many. Tens of thousands of teen injuries and deaths happen on the road every year and car crashes remain the leading cause of death for this age group.”

The insurance company is sponsoring a contest for teens to learn good driving habits. For complete contest rules including how points are awarded and how school scores are determined, visit www.jointheshift.org.

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