According to a new study, states with strict graduated licensing programs for teenagers and other new drivers reported a significantly lower rate of fatal car accidents involving teen drivers. The new data has added weight to a current campaign enact federal graduated licensing laws.
Currently, car accidents are the leading cause of death in teenagers, claiming the lives of almost 40,000 teens in the past 10 years. State legislatures have proposed several laws and regulations aimed at reducing the teen car accident fatality rate, with varied results.
The most successful legislation has been graduated driver's licensing programs, which are currently in existence in several states. According to a new study, states with graduated license laws saw 26 percent fewer crashes for 16-year-old drivers than states without the programs.
Although the graduated license programs vary from state to state, there are three elements that have proven especially effective at reducing teen car accidents, injuries and fatalities. Restricting the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle of a new driver is especially important, according to a representative of the Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. Restricting driving during the night time hours and prohibiting cell phone use behind the wheel has also proved key in preventing teen car crash fatalities.
Currently, Pennsylvania is among the states without graduated driver's licensing programs. It will be interesting to see whether state legislatures decide to create the programs after reading of the study's results.
The study also found that states with graduated licensing programs also saw a slight increase in car accident deaths for 18-year-old drivers. The study's authors do not yet know the reason for the rise.
Source: CBS News, "Restrictions on young teen drivers working: study," Sept. 14, 2011