Fatalities among teenage drivers rose sharply for the first six months of 2012, according to a new report.
The death toll for 16- and 17-year-old drivers of passenger vehicles jumped 19 percent, compared with the first half of 2011.
"It's troubling," said Barbara Harsha, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association, an organization representing state highway safety offices that released the study, "Teenage Driver Fatalities by State: 2012 Preliminary Data," on Tuesday.
Based on initial data supplied by the 50 states and the District of Columbia for the first six months of 2012, 25 states reported increases, 17 including Florida showed a decrease, and eight states and the District of Columbia reported no change. Overall, 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 202 to 240. In Florida, the total decreased from 14 to five.
"Even though the numbers are pretty small, 19 percent is pretty sizable," Harsha said in a telephone interview. "We didn't expect the increase to be as large as it is, so that's a concern."
If the trend persisted in the second half of the year, it would be the second year of increased deaths for teenage drivers in this age group after eight consecutive years of decline. Final data is not available for 2012, but fatalities typically go up in the second half of the year, she said.
Despite the increases, the deaths of teenage drivers remain historically low and are still better than they were five or even 10 years ago, said Allan Williams, a road safety consultant who wrote the report. "But any time there is a favorable trend and it reverses, there is concern and alarm."