Ken Harrell, a South Carolina personal injury lawyer, says work must be done to reverse the trend of increasing teen driver deaths after a new report shows more 16 and 17 year olds are dying in car crashes.

North Charleston, S.C. — With a recent report highlighting a worrisome increase in the number of teen driver deaths, South Carolina car accident lawyer Ken Harrell today encouraged parents and authorities to step up efforts to keep teens and all drivers safe.

“Studies and statistics show that new drivers are more likely to have accidents,” said Harrell, managing partner of Joye Law Firm, a personal injury firm with offices in Charleston, Clinton and Myrtle Beach. “State and local officials, as well as parents, must focus on educating young drivers and making sure they drive as safely as possible by avoiding drinking and drivingdistracted driving, speeding and other dangerous habits.”

Harrell was referring to a new report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) that shows a dramatic jump in the number of 16- and 17-year-old drivers who died in car crashes – a 19 percent increase during the first half of 2012 compared to the first six months of 2011.

In South Carolina, the number of 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths doubled in 2012, according to the report. In all, 25 states saw an increase in driver deaths for that age group.

“In addition to standard driver education, it’s just common sense that we must make sure young drivers know how dangerous certain behaviors are, such as drinking and driving, distracted driving and failing to wear a seatbelt,” Harrell said. “There’s no such thing as too much education when it comes to preventing car accidents and deaths.”

The GHSA report, based on data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, showed that, nationwide, 16- and 17-year-old driver deaths increased from 202 in the first six months of 2011 to 240 in the same time period in 2012. For South Carolina, the report shows eight deaths in the first six months of 2012, up from four in 2011.

Deaths of 16-year-old drivers increased from 86 to 107 — a 24 percent increase — while the number for 17-year-old drivers went from 116 to 133 — a 15 percent rise, according to the GHSA report. A projection from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicates all traffic deaths increased by 8 percent in 2012, making the 19 percent increase in traffic deaths in the 16-17 age bracket even more troubling, Harrell said.

“We need to find out why the rate of young driver deaths is increasing more than the overall rate,” he said. “It’s important that we properly instruct teen drivers and also take steps to make sure all drivers are engaging in safe driving practices to avoid causing car accidents.”

The researcher for the GHSA report said reasons for the increase in young driver deaths could include a leveling off of the benefits of states’ graduated driver licensing laws and increased teen driving due to an improving economy.

“Teen drivers must drive safely, and we must give them the tools to do so,” Harrell said. “Negligent drivers of all ages put their own safety at risk and also threaten the safety of their passengers, other motorists, pedestrians and everyone else they encounter.”

Harrell urged victims of negligent drivers to seek the advice of an experienced car accident attorney like those at his firm.

“Joye Law Firm is dedicated to holding careless drivers responsible — regardless of age,” he said. “Our seasoned attorneys work hard for our clients and to secure compensation for car accident victims.” 

About Joye Law Firm

Since 1968, Joye Law Firm has been fighting to help people throughout South Carolina with their legal challenges in a broad range of practice areas, including personal injury, car accidents, birth injury, brain injury, defective products, drug injury, motorcycle accidents, nursing home abuse, Social Security disability, spinal cord injury, traffic tickets, truck accidents, workers’ compensation and wrongful death. The South Carolina law firm has offices in Charleston and Myrtle Beach and assists clients in areas that include Florence, Richland County, Orangeburg, Columbia, North Charleston, Mount Pleasant, Summerville and the Horry County communities of Conway and North Myrtle Beach. The firm’s Charleston-area office is located at Northgate Office Building, 5861 Rivers Avenue, North Charleston, SC 29406 (local phone (888) 324-3100), and its Myrtle Beach office is located at 8703 Highway 17 Bypass, Unit H, Myrtle Beach, SC 29575 (local phone (843) 215-3100). Contact Joye Law Firm by calling (888) 324-3100 or filling out its online form.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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