Teen driving deaths in Kentucky doubled last year, according to new research released by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
There were 12 fatalities among 16 and 17-year-olds in the Commonwealth last year, putting Kentucky in a tie with Alabama and Illinois for the second most in the nation. Only Indiana and Tennessee had more. Each had 16.
Kara Macek, communications manager of the GHSA, said few states have stepped up driver training in recent years and that could be a factor.
Macek said distracted driving due to teens on their cellphones may also have contributed to the increased numbers. Traffic fatalities among teens had declined for several years until 2012.
“These laws are by and large in place and there hasn’t been a lot of strengthening of these laws over the last few years,” she said. “So we feel like we may have just sort of topped off. Another thing is the economy being stronger can lead to more teens on the roads, more teens with cars. Obviously the more teens and the more cars you have on the road, the more exposure to risk.”
Macek said it’s no secret that teens can often be distracted.
“We all know that teens love their devices, electronic devices, so that’s a very difficult thing to track but we guess that that is definitely causing some of these fatalities,” Macek said.
Macek adds that fewer states have been strengthening their graduated driver licensing systems in recent years, and the partial economic recovery has also led to more teens on the road and greater exposure to risk.