February 16, 2007

Graduated licensing programs reduce crashes among 16-year-olds, study says

Washington, D.C. – A study released by the American Automobile Association (AAA) Foundation for Traffic Safety found that 16-year-old drivers are involved in 38 per cent fewer fatal crashes, and 40 per cent fewer crashes resulting in injuries, if their state has a graduated licensing (GDL) program with at least five of seven common components.

The basic components are a minimum age of at least 16 years for obtaining a learner’s permit; a requirement to hold the learner’s permit for at least six months before receiving a license that allows any unsupervised driving; a requirement for certification of at least 30 hours of supervised driving practice during the learner stage; an intermediate stage of licensing, with a minimum entry age of 16 years and six months; a nighttime driving restriction for intermediate license holders beginning no later than 10 p.m.; a passenger restriction allowing no more than one non-family-member passenger; and a minimum age of 17 years for full, unrestricted licensure.

During the study period, no state had more than five GDL components in effect. As of February 15, Delaware has all seven, and Kentucky, Rhode Island and the District of Columbia have six.

“Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of deaths for teens in the United States, and roughly 1,000 16-year-old drivers are involved in fatal crashes each year,” says J. Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation president and CEO. “We commissioned this study to better understand the ability of legislation to make a difference on teen driver safety. Based on the research results, the impact of GDL programs is highly impressive.”

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