The number of fatalities in Georgia involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers dropped from 37 in 2011 to 23 in 2012, according to preliminary data included in a report released Tuesday by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
“It’s not the kind of thing you exactly gloat over, but it is good news for Georgia,” said Harris Blackwell, the director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
A decade ago, the number of 16- and 17-year-old drivers killed in wrecks was more than double the current rate.
Blackwell attributes implementation of the state’s graduated driver licensing laws for much of the decrease.
“It’s not numbers for the sake of numbers,” Blackwell said. “Every one of these numbers represents a life, a family whose lives have been changed forever.
“The only good that comes from that situation, often it is an educating experience for their peers, but at a tremendous cost.”
Tourner Moseley, a Greenbrier High School sophomore, is dedicated to help spread safety messages to teen drivers as one of 22 teens on the Governor’s Committee on Teen Driving. The committee will present recommendations to the governor and other state safety officials on March 18 on more effective ways to communicate a safe driving message to teen drivers.
Tourner said the group has been meeting regularly by conference call. They intend to make suggestions including revising and updating the Alcohol Drug Awareness Program test that all teens are required to take before they can obtain their driver’s license.
“(We’re) revising it and making it more interactive and informative,” said Tourner, 15. “It’s pretty old, and people don’t take it seriously.”
Blackwell said the group will be an asset to helping prevent teen driving deaths.
“We can learn from them,” said Blackwell, adding that smartphones and distracted driving are a growing threat to safe driving. “It is an opportunity for us as adults and those in the safety world to learn how to better communicate with them.”
Last year, two Columbia County teens, Jordan White, 19, and Jonathan Hartman, 18, died in wrecks.