Washington bucks national trend with fewer teen driver deaths

Feb 26, 2013

A new report finds more teen drivers are dying around the country, but not in Washington. So while nationwide there’s been a 19 percent increase in 16- and 17-year old drivers dying in the first half of last year, deaths dropped sharply in Washington

Jonna Van Dyk of the Washington Traffic Safety Commission says a lot of factors affect teen driving deaths.

“One of the moving parts of course is restrictions on those licenses. We call that program the intermediate driver license program,” she said.

That program restricts the time of day a 16- or 17-year old can drive a car, and limits the number of passengers allowed. It may have helped keep Washington’s death toll down to just one young teen driver in all of last year, what Van Dyk says is the lowest total in memory.

“What I think about is the kids who didn’t die. Really, it is huge cause for celebration. Here, however, we’re not going to be celebrating until there are no deaths at all,” Van Dyk saud.

A new national report out from the Governors Highway Safety Association notes that traffic deaths tend to decrease when the economy sputters. Nationwide the numbers are still down significantly from the early 2000s.