How's this for a rare piece of good news: "Fatal Crashes Involving Teen Drivers Dropped 36% Over 5 Years"?
Pretty great. But, sadly, far from the whole story told by U.S. traffic accident statistics published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on October 21, 2010. CDC analysts pored over data on accidents involving cars, pickups, tractor-trailers, buses, motorcycles and other vehicles between 2004 and 2008. The researchers found that improvements in driver education and training, motor vehicle safety, road design and enforcement of seat belt, drunk driving and anti-texting laws drove down overall numbers and rates of deaths on America's roads and highways.
That overall decline in the number of lives lost, however, covers up the growing number of rural, pickup truck-driving teens who die each year when they have accidents because they allow themselves to become distracted, lose control of their trucks or simply make "rookie" mistakes behind the wheel. A recent feature story in the Gainesville (FL) Sun summarizes four fatal teen driving accidents on country roads in a single county in just the past year. Three of the accidents involved an SUV or pickup.
Casting even more light on this tragic trend, researchers at the University of Texas (TX) discovered that "young drivers driving an SUV or a pickup truck, driving during the morning rush hour, and driving on roads with high speed limits are also found to trigger aggressive driving behavior." Those tendencies translate into higher numbers of accidents resulting in injuries and deaths.
The numbers, then, add up to serious risks for young divers who each day travel through the largely rural -- and highway-oriented -- areas of Chesapeake and Suffolk, Virginia (VA) and the northeastern part of North Carolina (NC). There are several villages on the Outer Banks that people can only reach via SUV or pickup. The ways to reduce those risks are to buckle up, never drive while impaired by alcohol or drugs, never use cell phones while driving and always obey speed limits.