Study focuses on traffic death risk among teen drivers - WNEM TV 5

Study focuses on traffic death risk among teen drivers

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)
SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

One of the most nerve-wrecking steps in raising children is when they start driving.

Deaths among teen drivers continue to rise, according to the National Safety Council.

"I'm really concerned about texting and driving," said George Botis, parent of five teenagers. "I think that they do a good job of it. I don't believe they're abusive with trying to use their phones. I think my oldest pushes that envelope, but I worry about others."

A new study conducted by the National Safety Council is projecting a steep rise in traffic deaths for 2016. The study said teens are the most at risk.

One Michigan resident, Nancy Hawkins, said she really noticed a problem with texting and driving when she was a passenger in someone else's car.

"I was looking around, driving on I-94 and thinking I'm going to look, check and see. And I saw like five people texting on their phones on I-94. It was scary," Hawkins said.

Distraction seems to be the biggest fear among parents, with all the technology available at the palm of your hand.

Young drivers, like Katelyn Huffman, admit it can be hard to resist.

"I try not to do it. I mean, sometimes obviously, if it's my mom or something like that I'll be like oh real quick. But I usually try not to," Huffman said.

Michigan ranks number eight with the highest increase of traffic deaths. More than 1,000 people were killed in vehicle crashes throughout the state last year, the most in the last decade.

The study shows states across the country are seeing a surge in traffic deaths.

The number comes as no surprise to Saginaw County Sheriff William Federspiel.

"As I drive around the community and throughout the state I see more and more times that people are texting or searching the web. Whatever they're doing, Facebooking, downloading songs as they're driving 50 miles per hour down the road," Federspiel said.

The study placed the blame on distraction, speed and alcohol.

Of the cases handled by the Saginaw County Sheriff's Department, they saw an increase in fatal accidents and single car crashes. They also noted the crashes involving someone under the influence was up 35 percent.

Federspiel said distracted driving is one of the biggest growing issues.

"I've had people come at me across the double yellow line and I see their device in their hand and their eyes get really big when they finally look up and they see that they're halfway into my lane and we're both doing 50 miles per hour," Federspiel said.

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