July 4, 2006

Graduated driver licensing reduces fatal crashes by 11 per cent

Washington, D.C. – A report by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) says that graduated driver licensing programs reduce the incidence of fatal crashes of 16-year-old drivers by an average of 11 per cent. The figure is based on a study by Johns Hopkins researchers, supported by NHTSA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Graduated driver licensing programs are a popular way to reduce the risk of vehicle crashes for novice drivers,” says Susan P. Baker, lead author of the study. “We already knew that the programs reduced crash rates of young drivers, but we didn’t know which programs were most effective in reducing risk. After completing our study, it is clear that more comprehensive programs have the greatest effect.”

The researchers based their analyses on several components, including a minimum age of 15-1/2 for obtaining a learner permit, a waiting period of three months between obtaining a learner permit and applying for an intermediate license, a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving, minimum age of at least 16 years for an intermediate license, minimum age of at least 17 years for full licensing, a nighttime driving restriction, and a restriction on carrying passengers.

Comparing states with five program components to states without graduated licensing programs, the researchers reported an 18 per cent reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers; programs with six or seven components were associated with a 21 per cent reduction.

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