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Teen car accident death rates still higher in Los Angeles

In our last post we discussed a CDC report which indicates that Los Angeles has a lower car accident fatality rate compared to rural areas. The CDC data also indicates that teen drivers are much more likely to be involved in a fatal car accident than drivers over the age of 24.

Despite higher numbers of young driver deaths, the rate of young driver fatalities was still lower in cities when compared to rural areas.

"Among persons aged 15-24 years, the motor vehicle crash death rate for all metropolitan statistical areas combined was 13.0 per 100,000 residents, compared with a national rate of 17.3," researchers wrote.

Researchers noted that graduated driver licensing programs are one way of limiting the number of deaths for young drivers. GDL programs restrict a young driver's ability to drive in high risk situations such as at night or with too many passengers. Studies indicate that the number of teen car accident deaths decreased in states with stronger GDL laws.

The Los Angeles Times reports that there are other studies which indicate that GDL laws simply push the car accident death rate to older teens and do not in fact create significantly safer drivers, just older inexperienced teen drivers.

It is unclear whether decreasing the death rate among 16 and 17-year-olds while increasing fatalities among 18 and 19-year-olds is an effective strategy of creating a safer environment for teen drivers and the people they may run into.

Source: CDC, "Motor Vehicle Crash Deaths in Metropolitan Areas - United States, 2009," July 20, 2012

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