Teen driving restrictions not as effective in reducing car accidents

Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teen drivers in Nashville and around the country. Most of these car accidents are attributable to the inexperience of teen drivers who may fail to exercise the judgment of their adult counterparts. In order to combat the number of tragic teen car accident deaths many states have adopted graduated drivers licenses which ease driving restrictions as teens get older.

A recent study on nationwide crash data indicates that the graduating driver's license restrictions on teen drivers may not be solving the problem of teen crashes. There has been a decrease in the number of crashes involving drivers who are between 16 and 17 years old, but the number of crashes involving teens who are 18 and 19 years old have gone up by almost the same amount. This means that teens are not gaining the driving experience they need through these restricted driving programs and that the ranks of inexperienced teen drivers have just shifted to older teens.

"The unintended consequences of these laws have not been well-examined," said a researcher who published the study. "It's a pretty compelling study."

One of the most shocking statistics from the study shows that in states with graduated drivers license laws, the death rate among 18-year-olds is 12 percent higher than those without such restrictions.

"The programs reduce crashes among 16-year-olds - if you look at just that, it looks bright and shiny," said Scott V. Masten of the Department of Motor Vehicles Research and Development Branch in Sacramento. "But there appears to be some negative consequences. Instead of just looking at the targeted group, we need to ask what is going on with all teens."

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Teen driver restrictions a mixed bag," Shari Roan, Sept. 13, 2011

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