MOHSP: More Teens Dying in Car Crashes

The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning released their 2015 statistics today.

The number of car crashes is actually down, but deadly crashes jumped 10 percent from 2014.

The increase was even higher for teenagers dying in car crashes, increasing by 23 percent.

Two of those teens went to Benzie County Central High School.

"It was really hard because you never think you’re going to have to go on without your best friend," says Tayler Price, who was best friends with Kelsey Purchase.

This August will mark one year since Purchase died in a crash outside the Northwestern Michigan Fair. She had recently transferred to Traverse City schools, but grew up in the Benzie County district.

"You see it happening to other people but you never think it’s going to happen to someone so close to you… Everyone loved her… She was really funny and creative and artsy," says Price.

Just two months after Kelsey’s accident, Benzie County high schooler Alyssa Bell also died in a car crash.

"She was really smart, beautiful. She was so outgoing… I never experienced death before so it was all new but I still have this feeling that she’s going to come back and we’ll be able to catch up," says Ashley Nichols, Bell’s best friend.

Losing both of these young women is something friends and family continue to grieve.

"You don’t get closure with a car accident. I guess you don’t get to say bye. You don’t know it’s coming so that’s really hard," says Nichols.

The high school principal says they work hard to remind students to be careful on the road, but seeing a 23 percent increase in teens dying in car crashes is alarming.

"It scares me because we usually are there to help them to learn from it but when you make a mistake in an automobile sometimes there’s no learning from it, no recovery and that’s what makes that difficult," says Benzie Central High School principal Larry Haughn.

"I hope people really consider when they’re driving and being really safe and really careful because we know it can happen now," says Nichols.

 Here is a break down of other statistics in the new report:

There were 297,023 crashes in 2015 compared to 298,699 in 2014.

Of those crashes. 74,157 resulted in injuries in 2015. That’s compared to 71,378 crash injuries in 2014.

Total deaths increased from 876 in 2014 to 963 in 2015.

The largest increase was among bicyclist deaths, up 57 percent from 21 in 2014 to 33 in 2015.

Motorcyclist deaths were up 29 percent, from 107 in 2014 to138 in 2015.

Alcohol-involved deaths were up 28 percent, from 236 in 2014 to 303 in 2015.

Drug-involved fatal crashes spiked 19 percent, up from 150 in 2014 to 179 in 2015.

The entire report by the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning can be found here.