According to a study carried out by the Governors Highway Safety Association, the number of fatalities among teenage drivers aged 16 and 17 across the nation during the first half of 2012 increased 19%, when compared to the figures for the first half of 2011. The national trend of an increase in fatalities from 202 deaths to 240 was bucked in Florida, which saw a substantial reduction in the number of teenage deaths, from 14 to five. They must be doing something right, because in 2011 Florida had one of the highest rates of teenage driving deaths.
Some have credited Florida’s Graduated Driver Licensing program for the improvements. In this program, 16-year-old drivers are limited to driving between the hours of 6am and 11pm unless accompanied by a 21-year-old who is licensed to drive and sitting in the front passenger seat, or on the way to and from work. Drivers aged 17 have more freedom, permitted to drive unaccompanied between 5am and 1am.
Driving the right way
The improvements in Florida are something to be proud of, and something we need to work hard to maintain. Here are some tips to help recently graduated drivers stay safe on the road:
- Speed. Excessive speed caused about 40% of fatal teen driving accidents. It is tempting to celebrate your newfound freedom by putting your foot down, but sticking to speed limits saves lives and avoids traffic tickets.
- Cell phone. It is legal in Florida to drive while talking on a handheld cell phone, but that doesn’t make it safe. Any minor distraction, lasting just a few seconds, can cause you to miss an approaching hazard and crash. Text messaging while driving, though, is illegal, because it is even more distracting than talking.
- Defensive driving. Learn to spot potential hazards as early as possible, and make sure you keep a safe distance from the car in front, especially at higher speeds.
- Teenage passengers. Statistically, the risk of having an accident while you have a teenage passenger in the car is almost double compared to driving on your own.
Don’t allow yourself to become just another tragic statistic. If you are caught up in an auto accident, get in touch with a committed St. Petersburg car accident attorney.