GWINNETT FATAL ACCIDENTS INVOLVING 16- AND 17-YEAR-OLD DRIVERS, 2011-12*
• April 19, 2011 — Driver age: 17. Fatality age: 10
• Oct. 22, 2011 — Driver age: 17. Fatality age: 20
• Nov. 21, 2011 — Driver age: 17. Fatality age: 20
• July 1, 2012 — Driver age: 17. Fatality age: 17
• Nov. 20, 2012 — Driver age: 17. Fatality age: 70
• Nov. 21, 2012 — Driver age: 16. Fatality age: 16
• Nov. 29, 2012 — Driver age: 17. Fatality age: 17
*Statistics do not imply or consider fault of drivers
Victim not in car with teenage driver
LAWRENCEVILLE -- Georgia is bucking the national trend of increasing fatalities involving vehicles piloted by new teen drivers, but things aren't so bright inside Gwinnett County lines.
The national Governors Highway Safety Association released Tuesday a preliminary report indicating that deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers were up 19 percent between the first six months of 2011 and the same timeframe in 2012. Harris Blackwood, director of Georgia's Governor's Office of Highway Safety, told the Daily Post that such incidents within the state, however, are actually down significantly -- from 37 fatalities in 2011 to 23 in 2012.
Gwinnett, though, was the Georgia county with the most fatal accidents -- four -- involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers last year. It had three such incidents the prior year.
"It's not an alarming statistic," Blackwood said of Gwinnett's numbers, "it's just one that we take note of."
Of the four Gwinnett incidents last year, three came in a nine-day span between Nov. 20 and Nov. 29. In four of the seven total crashes from the previous two years, the fatality came from a driver or passenger in a car other than the one being driven by a 16- or 17-year-old.
Nationally, the GHSA said spike in teen fatalities was "presumably related to the partial economic recovery that has taken place, leading to more teens on the road and greater exposure to risk."
In October, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal announced the appointment of 22 teenagers -- including Morgan Polk of Suwanee -- to the Governor's Commission on Teen Driving. The goal of that group, which will present its findings on March 18, is to get teen input on how law enforcement and other adults can better help prepare them to drive -- and how to better get their message across.
"Teens don't watch televisions the same way most adults do," Blackwood said. "They don't listen to the radio the same way as adults ... I think they're going to be blatantly honest."