Dangerous new stats for teen drivers

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- Deaths among teen drivers increased 19% in the first six months of 2012, according to a new report by Governors Highway Safety Association.

In the first half of 2012, there were 240 highway fatalities among 16-and-17 year-old drivers, up from 202 in 2011. Twenty five states have reporter an increase in the number of teen driver deaths.

Chad Soden is the Drivers Ed instructor at Westside High School and saida lot of kids lack experience and drive way too fast, which he said are contributing factors. Soden said parents also play a part by working with teens before they get their permits.

"Parents don't get out like they use to," Soden said. "And work with thembefore they are able to get their permits."

"I think parents should probably put more restrictions" Soden said. "Ormake sure they ride with them to see how good of a driver they are before theyjust  let them loose and let them go outdriving."

Traci Cook, senior, says she always tries to be a good driver, and she only rides with friends that she trusts.

"I make sure I wear my seat belt all the time, I check mymirrors, I make sure I look both ways before I go, just simple stuff like that," Cook said.

In his Drivers Education classes, Soden said a lot of the students make the same mistakes while driving.

"They like to drive too close to the person they arefollowing,"Soden said. "They don't handle curves real well, they come up in the curve realfast ,they don't pay attention to the safe speed signs for the curves coming upahead. They wait till they get in the curve and they realize they are going toofast and then they have to slow down."

A lot of students don't know the rules of the road. Soden said one of the questions he gets every semester is whether it's allowed to drive 5 miles over the speed limit.

"I wish and I would like to see a more stringent test on howthey can get their permit, I think its too easy," Soden said.

While many believe texting and driving is the only distractions teens face while driving, Soden said that is certainly not the case.

"You got yourDVD players, you got cars now with navigation systems.When they drive withtheir animals in their vehicle, that is a big distraction.Their friends beingin the vehicle," Soden said.

Soden said new drivers should not be afraid to drive below the speed limit if they do not feel comfortable or if they are not familiar with the roads. But Cook says learning tobe a good driver benefits everyone.

"So they're safe," Cook said. "And so people around them are safe because ifI'm the only safe driver out there, who can run into me."

In the first half of 2012,there were 240 fatalities on US Highways involving 16 and 17-year-old drivers. There were only 202 fatalities in 2011.

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