Report: Teen traffic deaths on rise

Father speaks of losing daughter in crash last year


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A new report shows teen traffic deaths increased dramatically in the first six months of 2012.

Deaths of 16- and 17-year-old drivers jumped by 19 percent from January to June of last year. Just more than 100 16-year-olds died behind the wheel nationwide, compared to 86 a year earlier.

One local father lost his teen daughter in a traffic accident, and given the latest numbers, he says he wants teens to know there are consequences to the way they drive.

Duane Sommise said he wants to see some things change.

"It's tough losing a daughter," he said. "I know it's tough on her friends to lose Jordan. Just know that life is precious and it can be taken away in a second."

Jordan Sommise
Jordan Sommise

Fourteen-year-old Jordan Sommise (pictured, right) was killed in December when the truck she was riding in overturned. The driver was 17-year-old Austin Kight. FHP says Kight lost control trying to pass another vehicle.

Sommise believes student drivers should drive in a simulator before getting their license. That could help teens become more prepared for real-life scenarios, like passing another vehicle.

"Kids should be put in situations in the simulator to see how they would act like that," Sommise said.

Because his daughter's accident was on a back road, Sommise also has this suggestion.

"They do need better lighting on these roads," he said. "It's pretty dark in the woods out there."

City Council President Bill Bishop spoke about whether city has had any thoughts on making some of those changes.

"Should we have better lighting on streets? Potentially on some of these back streets, but it's extremely expensive to do so," Bishop said.

Sommise said parents must take some responsibility, too. He suggests they restrict their teens from driving in a vehicle with other teens.

It's something he now mandates with his children.

"They start distracting each other," Sommise said. "You have three teenagers in the front seat of a truck that my daughter got killed in."

He said it's just another reason parents need to talk to their children about safety on the road.