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Death and injury rates decrease under graduated licensing


June 22, 2006   by Canadian Underwriter


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The Graduated Driver License Law appears to result in lower death and injury rates for teen drivers, with the median age being 16-years old, according to a study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Death and injury crashes for 16-year-old drivers were 20% lower in jurisdictions which place restrictions on nighttime driving and number of passengers, when compared to areas without these limits, according to the study which compares Oregon with Ontario, Canada.
“This study shows what the Auto Club has maintained for years, that young drivers need time to develop experience and judgment before meeting the challenges they face on the road,” Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp says. “Restricting driving in the most dangerous situations, driving at night and driving with other teens, is among the most important building blocks of teaching teens to drive safely.”
The AAA study found that teens that obey traffic rules and follow graduated licensing regulations are much less likely to crash. For example, the study indicates that 30% of crash-free teens, but only 16% of crash-involved teens, reported that they never violated passenger restrictions during their first six months in the provisional stage of graduated licensing. The study reports that nearly half of the crash-involved teens reported violating the passenger restrictions “more than a few times.”
In addition, 13% of crash-free teens reported receiving a traffic citation compared to 33% of crash-involved teens.
“The study makes it clear that teens who obey traffic laws, follow GDL (graduated licensing) provisions and have actively involved parents are much less likely to be in crashes,” Thorp says.
An analysis by the AAA Foundation of federal crash data also found that July and August are particularly dangerous months for young drivers.
From 1995-2004, the study found that 20% more 16 and 17-year-old drivers were killed in crashes during these months than during other months.
“Summer vacation for teen drivers often means less structure and not as much oversight by mom and dad. That can lead to more crashes,” Thorp said. “Enforcing safe driving rules that include passenger and nighttime limits is essential to keeping teens and others safe on the road.”
The graduated licensing law in California requires young drivers to “spend more time behind the wheel to gain the experience needed for safe driving,” according to AAA.
Teens, the foundation explains, must hold an instruction permit for six months before applying for a provision license and during this time, they must log 50 hours of adult-supervised driving practice.
The law also restricts late-night driving during the first year of a provisional license and additionally, it prohibits drivers with a provisional license from driving with a passenger under 20 years of age without adult supervision.
For the AAA Foundation study, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, located in Toronto, Canada, compared crash rates and crash patterns of teenage drivers in Oregon, which has nighttime and passengers restrictions during the provisional stage of GDL, to those in Ontario, Canada whose graduated licensing program did not include such restrictions.


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