September 1, 2006

California’s graduated licensing law reduces teen drivers’ crash rates

Arlington, Virginia – A new evaluation of graduated licensing shows a 23 per cent overall reduction in the per-capita crash involvement rate of 16-year-old drivers in California, according to a report by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Crashes went down more in the high-risk situations specifically addressed by graduated licensing, with nighttime crash rates down 27 per cent, and crash rates with teen passengers down by 38 per cent.

California legislators were among the first in the U.S. to enact graduated licensing, which took effect in 1998. The law increased the learner’s permit period and required parents or guardians to certify that learns get at least 50 hours of practice. Once licensed, 16-year-olds may not drive unsupervised at night, or at any time with teenaged passengers.

The IIHS says that crashes are not being postponed – the law isn’t shifting high crash rates from 16-year-old beginners to 17-year-olds – and crashes are not going up among beginners driving alone, despite concern that the passenger restriction would increase risk by forcing groups of teens to travel in separate vehicles to the same destination.

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