Politics & Government

Texas teen driving limits credited for 5-year decline in deaths

Fatal wrecks involving teen drivers have declined for five consecutive years in Texas, a trend researchers credit to tougher driver's license laws and safe-driving campaigns in schools.

Drunken driving is the fifth most likely cause of fatal crashes involving teen drivers, a report released Monday shows. Alcohol impairment takes a back seat to driving at night; speeding and racing; distractions, such as talking and texting on a cellphone; and low seat-belt use.

In 2007, 419 people in Texas were killed in crashes involving drivers ages 16 to 19, down from 625 deaths in 2002. The numbers indicate that the state’s graduated license requirements are working, say officials at the Texas Transportation Institute, which wrote the report. Since 2002, young drivers have steadily been granted more driving privileges, such as driving alone or at night, after they have gained six to 12 months of experience.

And, evidence is mounting that a public-awareness campaign known as Teens in the Driver Seat is helping, too, researchers at the Texas A&M-based institute say. That program, which reaches about 250,000 people in 300 schools, organizes safe-driving campaigns tailored to each campus, with messages created and delivered by the students.

Read the full story at star-telegram.com