Fatal accident rate still high for Tennessee teen drivers

A recent report issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) reveals that Tennessee has the dubious distinction of having the highest rate of teen driver fatalities in the nation. The rate of 16- to 17-year-olds killed in accidents in the state nearly tripled from 2011 to 2012. That comes as no surprise to many law enforcement agencies, public safety watchdog organizations and legal experts around the country who have seen the accident rate for young drivers spike in recent years as more novice drivers hit the road equipped with high-tech gadgets that compete for their attention.

The facts

The teenage driver accident rate in general has been fluctuating around the country for a few years now, with some areas seeing marked improvement and others facing more accidents than ever before. Tragically, the teen fatality rate seems to be rising, though, and that is largely blamed on the prevalence of distracted driving. The increase is frustrating for both law enforcement agencies because nearly every state has some form of law on the books designed to limit the use of hand-held cellphones and text messaging behind the wheel.

Proponents of stricter safety measures point to the vague wording of many of those statutes, since most of them are filled with loopholes that could allow drivers to legally engage in a number of equally distracting behaviors like:

  • Dialing phone numbers
  • Using GPS/mapping devices
  • Changing music selections on an mp3 player
  • Checking email
  • Surfing the web
  • Updating social network status

Making a difference

Areas around the state are taking action to combat the tide of teen accidents, by implementing mandatory drivers' education courses and safety training programs. These are aimed at giving young drivers the tools needed to stay focused on the road and react to changes in traffic level, road conditions and weather that can contribute to accidents.

Teenagers themselves must take responsibility for their behaviors behind the wheel, though. Schools across the country have introduced pledges that teens can sign where they agree to drive safely and avoid the temptation of various distractions.

Regardless of whether an accident was the fault of a teen driver or not, if you have been injured in a crash, you may have the right to recover compensation for your injuries. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney in your area to learn more about your legal rights and options you may have to hold the responsible parties accountable.