KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- The number of teen drivers killed on the roadway went up the first half of last year compared to 2011.
Tennessee is now 2nd in the nation according to preliminary data released by the Governors Highway Safety Association for the number of teenage drivers who were killed on the roads.
At 15, Madissen Campbell is learning to drive at the Drive 4 Life Academy in Knoxville. She's scared to hear that people her age are dieing on the roadways.
"It is scary. I think it's because of texting and driving and talking on the phone just not paying attention," said Campbell.
And she's correct on that according to Mike Lewis, a State Farm Insurance Agent. Lewis says the economy improving has lead more teens to have cars and cell phones, another distraction in the car.
Teenage deaths went up 19% in the first six months of last year, after several years of declines. For 16-year-olds the number went up 24% and for 17-year-olds up 24%.
"It's just sad, it's unnecessary death. It's just something that's avoidable. It's obvious that it's a multifaceted problem," said Lewis. "As many of us that can influence teens about, you really only get one chance to mess up when you're doing something as serious as operating a car will help."
Lewis says it's not just up to parents to encourage teens to be safe. He says everyone can help make a difference. He also says lawmakers should make laws tougher for teens who drop out of school or don't keep their grades up.
Help for teen drivers is coming to Knoxville on Saturday, March 9. Susan Perry has worked for months to get a North Carolina program called, Street Safe, back to Knoxville. The mother of a teen driver, she worries about their safety on the roads.
"Anything we can do to make them better drivers I think is worth while," said Perry. "Cause anytime you lose any teenager because of an accident it's a horrible situation not only for their families, but for their school as well."
Street safe accepts applicants who are 15y/o and possess a valid learner's permit. There is a $55 online registration fee available through the link below.
The event will happen at Hardin Valley Academy, space is still available for any young teenage drivers to attend.