Tougher teenage driving restrictions can reduce fatalities

Having young drivers on the road can pose dangers. Car accidents have caused the deaths of approximately 37,000 teenagers in the last ten years. That makes car accidents the leading cause of death among teens.

A recent study of the differences in death rates between different states, however, indicates that the risk of such fatal car accidents can be reduced by adopting increased limitations on licensing for teenage drivers, known as “graduated licensing.”

Jurisdictions that have adopted the most restrictive of such programs, the study indicated, have succeeded in reducing the number of fatalities of teen motorists and their passengers.

According to CBS News, the study was summarized in an article in the American Medical Association Journal. Statistics show that states with tougher, more restrictive driver’s licensing programs for teenagers reduced fatal car accidents involving 16-year-old motorists by 26 percent. Such restrictive licensing programs generally involve three different limitations on teen drivers.

The first is limiting the number of passengers that teen drivers can transport in their vehicles. The second is placing restrictions on teen drivers going on the roads at night. The third is establishing a clear ban on the use of cellphones by teen motorists while driving.

The study could not explain, however, why such restrictions imposed on 16-year-old drivers saved lives, while that was not the case for 18-year-old motorists. In that age group, there was actually a small increase in fatalities.

Adoption of such restrictions, safety advocates assert, typically results in an immediate reduction in highway fatalities. As a result, there are now efforts underway to try to get Congress to pass federal legislation mandating such restrictions nationwide.

Source: CBS News, “Restrictions on young teen drivers working: study,” Sept. 14, 2011