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Tennessee tied for most teen driver deaths in the country

8:06 PM, Feb 26, 2013   |    comments
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More teenage drivers died on the road in the first six months of 2012, compared to the same time in 2011, according to a report released Tuesday by the Governor's Highway Safety Association.

The report says 240 teens died nationwide between January through June 2012.  There were 202 fatalities between January and June 2011.

"It breaks my heart. That's why I think, I think it's unnecessary deaths," said Mike Lewis, a State Farm Insurance agent that read the report this morning.

What was more startling, he added, was Tennessee's numbers -- tied as the highest in the nation with Indiana with 16 teen fatalities.

"Sad day in Tennessee, for first, or last depending on how you look at it, in teen driver deaths," Lewis added.

Experts said there is not one specific reason as to why the increase happened, but Stephanie Milani with AAA said there are some ideas.

"The economic recovery put more disposable income in hands, which teens may be using as gas money," she said.

She added loosened driver license rules and more distractions, like cell phones and texting, are partly to blame.

"There may be more things we can do to protect our drivers that states haven't done yet," Milani added.

One idea, Lewis said, is a teen driving program called "street safe" which was just introduced in Tennessee last year at Bearden High School. It helps teens experience simulated real life scenarios, like bad road conditions or impaired drivers.

"It's going to take all of us to try and give the parent the tools and show the teens how serious this is," he said.

Street Safe will be at Hardin Valley Academy on March 9. For information to sign up, visit their website.

AAA also has a teen driving program called Keys2Drive. Information on that program is available on AAA's website.

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