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Advocates want government to address teen deaths in car crashes

While Pennsylvania is experiencing a downward trend in car accident-related teen deaths, such is not the case nationwide. The National Center for Health Statistics reported that in 2014, there were 1,678 car accident-related deaths of individuals between the ages of 15 and 20. This makes car crashes the No. 1 cause of death for young drivers.

The 2015 teen driving death rate outpaced 2014 by 10 percent. Recognizing the consistent upward trend of such fatalities, safe driving advocates are seeking assistance from the government. A look inside the 2015 numbers reveal that not wearing seat belts factored into 54 percent of teen deaths, speed accounted for 36 percent, and alcohol was a contributing factor in 26 percent of the fatal crashes.

With 1,102 fatal accidents and 1,200 fatalities, Pennsylvania's 2015 teen death rate was the second lowest since 1928 when the state started keeping records. Delaware saw 133 fatalities in 129 fatal accidents in 2015, and New Jersey recorded a 11.2 percent teen death rate increase over the same period in 2015.

According to the statistics, a teen motorist's chance of survival was greatly enhanced when seat belts were worn. In Pennsylvania, where not wearing a seat belt won't trigger a traffic stop but may garner a ticket, seat belts reportedly prevented 381 deaths in 2014.

It's important to encourage teenage drivers and passengers to always wear their seat belts, refrain from speeding, and eliminate tempting distractions such as cell phones and other media while they drive. When a crash happens, however, an attorney may be able to conduct an accident investigation to determine whether it was caused by the teen, another driver, or a road hazard.

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