Restrictions on American teenage drivers have lowered the risk of fatal crashes among younger teens, but have inadvertently created an increased risk for deadly accidents among older teens. According to a nationwide study, while the number of fatal crashes among 16- and 17-year-old drivers has dropped considerably, lethal driving accidents among 18-to-19-year-old drivers have risen significantly.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car crashes are the leading cause of death for American teens, and account for more than one-third of teen deaths in the U.S.
In 1996, various states began placing restrictions on drivers under the age of 18, in an effort to curb the rate of fatal crashes. Today, all of the United States have some form of graduated driver licensing program.
The study examined fatal crashes from 1986 to 2007 involving 16- to 19-year-olds. Findings revealed that graduated driver programs, which include restrictions that prevent young drivers from traveling at late night, and only allows them to drive with a single teen passenger, have fallen far short of goal.
The combined number of crashes among both younger and older age groups of teen drivers has basically remained the same. The increase in the number of accidents for the 18- to 19-year-old age group essentially cancels out the majority of the decrease in number of crashes for the 16-to-17-year-old age group.
The study statistics show that since 1996, the implementation of graduated driving licensing programs have led to 1,348 fewer fatal crashes among 16-year-old drivers, but have also been linked to 1,086 more deaths for 18-year-olds. While no difference in the number of fatal car crashes were noted for either drivers aged 17 or 19, among 18-year-olds who were beyond the scope of driving restrictions, the odds of having a deadly crash rose by 12 percent.
When Should Driving Restrictions End? – Page 2