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Teen driving deaths on the rise - but not in Oregon

By John Hendricks
Published On: Feb 28 2013 02:05:16 AM CST
Updated On: Feb 28 2013 02:58:49 AM CST

NewsChannel 21's John Hendricks reports on a new study that shows deaths among teen drivers is on the rise across the nation. On the High Desert it's a much different story.

BEND, Ore. -

For the last decade, lawmakers have been working to make the roads more safe. A new report released by the Governors Highway Safety Association shows the number of deaths among drivers age 16 to 17 rose dramatically across the country.

The study looked at data from all 50 states and the District of Columbia during the first six months of 2012.

Across the nation, the number of deaths was up 19 percent, to 240, compared to the same period a year earlier.

But in Oregon, only one death was reported during that time period. 

Most recently, the state has been trying to curb distracted driving.

Currently, there is a bill in the Oregon Legislature that would make fines stiffer for those caught talking or texting while driving, raising it to $1,000.

"It's not just, 'Get in, grab the gas, grab the steering wheel and go,'" said Mark Larson, the owner of Deschutes Driver Education.

Larson says teens don't fully understand how many distractions there are.

"You've got pedestrians other cars, you've got weather, other road issues, parked cars. It's amazing with what's going on out there," Larson said.

But what is Oregon doing right?

The state has passed several laws over the last few years to protect you when you get behind the wheel, from texting to talking on your phone, to when teens get their first license, limiting the number of passengers they have riding in the back seat.

"Comparing us to other states in the Untied States, we have a pretty aggressive program and high expectations of their training and what they need to accomplish before they get their drivers license," said Bend police patrol Officer Matt Baldwin.

Baldwin says it's those laws that have kept the number of deaths on the road low.

For those of who are on the road day in and day out, they say to put the cell phone down.

"There is nothing going on in the world out there in the time that they are driving that is so important to have that on," Larson said.

For a full copy of the report Click Here

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