ATLANTA (AP) A new report shows that deaths of younger teen drivers increased sharply in the first six months of last year, reversing a decade-long trend. But in Georgia, they were down. However, Hall County was second in the state in fatal accidents involving 16- and- 17-year-old drivers.
There were five deaths among 16- and 17-year-old drivers in the state during the first six months of 2012. That's down from six deaths during the first half of 2011.
Harris Blackwood with the Governor's Office of Highway Safety said he thinks the graduated driver's license program is working. He said the state is seeing a decrease in 16 year old drivers and an increase in 17 year olds.
"That means we're taking a longer time for that learner's period, and that the driver who goes on the road by themselves is a little more experienced, and that's good news," Blackwood said.
The report was released Tuesday by the Governors Office of Highway Safety.
Nationally, there were 107 drivers aged 16 who died between January and June of last year, compared to 86 drivers during the first half of 2011.
25 states reported increases, 17 had decreases, and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change in the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths.
The GOHS says "it is important to note that this data does not tell you whether the teen driver was at fault in these crashes," however, "about two-thirds of the fatalities recorded on this report were in the 16 or 17-year-old's vehicle."
In Hall County, there were two fatal wrecks during the period covered by the report that involved 16- and 17-year-old drivers. Three people were killed as a result of these two crashes.
Blackwood said it's sad, but when communities lose a teenager in a wreck, it becomes an educational experience.
"Kids realize that human life is frail, and there's a certain amount of invincibility out there that they feel like it's not going to happen to them. When it does happen within their school, church group or community, it becomes very real to them."
(AccessNorthGa.com's Ken Stanford and Derreck Booth contributed to this story.)