LOS ANGELES (KTLA) — Across the nation, there has been a shocking rise in the number of teen driving deaths, a new report shows.
The study, from the Governors Highway Safety Association, says that in the first six months of 2012, deaths of 16 and 17 year olds in traffic accidents went up 19 percent.
That’s a sharp increase and a departure from a trend seen in recent years of fewer teens dying in car crashes.
That decline has been attributed largely to tougher laws that restrict when teens can drive and when they can drive with other young people.
So what’s causing the current upswing? Researchers blame distracted driving — teens talking on cell phones or texting while behind the wheel.
It also could be happening in part because of the improving economy.
Teens have a little more money now, so they’re driving more, which means more fatal crashes.
Car crashes remain the leading cause of death for young people in the United States.
There was one bright spot in the study pertaining specifically to California.
In the Golden State, the number of fatal crashes involving young drivers actually went down for the first half of 2012, bucking the nationwide trend.
-Eric Spillman reporting