Teen driver safety weeks highlights rise in deadly crashes

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – It’s Teen Driver Safety Week and the number of deadly crashes involving teen drivers continues to rise.

Layton Proffitt and Leigh Ann Elridge are two among many teens whose lives were taken too soon on Tennessee’s roads.

“It’s very heartbreaking and it’s very alarming what we’re seeing as law enforcement,” said Lt. Bill Miller from the Tennessee Highway Patrol.

According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, the number of deadly crashes sits at 104, up from 65 from this time last year – that’s almost a 65-percent increase.

The grim trend highlights the real facts behind Teen Driver Safety Week.

Lt. Miller said two big factors include speed and not wearing a seat belt.

“Stop the madness,” said Lt. Miller. “Stop the bad decision making.”

Lt. Miller said to turnaround this trend will take every stakeholder.

“We need the media, we need parents, we need schools, drivers, passengers, everyone to step up and say enough is enough,” said Lt. Miller. “No more teen drivers need to be lost.”

Just last week, the THP began ramping up its enforcement of distracted driving.

Although the new Hands-Free Law prevents using a phone while driving, Lt. Miller said there are still violators.

“Do they violate that law, yes they do, teens text and drive,” he said. “So we’re hoping the new Hands-Free Law in Tennessee will help to stem back the number of fatalities in the state.”

The Tennessee Highway Safety Office has been actively posting on social media the startling stats involving drinking and driving, safety reminders like buckling up and no distractions, even sharing the importance of driver education.

Tennessee currently doesn’t fund any teen drivers education course.

Lt. Miller said despite this, teens need to learn the rules, while parents need to enforce.

“Know your children’s driving habits and correct them at home before it unfortunately leads to the most worst tragedy a parent can ever experience and that’s loss of a child,” said Lt. Miller.

The Highway Safety Office is set to do a mock crash at Gallatin High School on Wednesday.

Teen Driver Safety Week ends on Saturday.

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