• Jul 7, 2006
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a report this week that indicated states with the toughest laws governing teenage driving reduced death rates for 16 year olds by up to 21. A study from John Hopkins University states the following provisions have the greatest impact among teen survivability:
  • Age requirements for learner permits, intermediate and full driver's licenses.
  • Supervised driving of hours of 30 or more.
  • Passenger restrictions while teen is driving.
  • Three-month waiting period for teen to obtain their intermediate license.
  • Night-time driving restrictions.
"We already knew that the programs reduced crash rates of young drivers," says John Hopkins professor Susan Baker and lead author of the above study, 'but we didn't know which programs were most effective." Currently 19 states have all the listed provisions on the books.

Supporters for tougher teenage driving laws, which includes the current head of the NHTSA, point to the report and the Hopkins study in the hope that other states will reevaluate their current regulations. But states with high numbers of farming communities most likely will resist such provisions, especially those raising the legal driving age to 17. The National Youth Rights Association (NYRA) also opposes such regulation on civil rights grounds. States NYRA director Alex Koroknay-Palicz says, "to have driving stripped away from young people is discriminating."

[Source: USA Today]


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  • 36 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have to agree with Martyn Bignell. The quality of driving instruction in the USA is abysmal, and the standards for obtaining a driver's license far too low. It is just too easy to get and keep a DL here. The restrictions for teens are a positive step, but the ENTIRE system needs to be revised.

      A good percentage of the "traffic problem" in America is actually a poor use of the roadways by completely untrained, and largely inattentive drivers. They have traffic problems in Europe too, but the motorways and autobahns are a joy to travel compared to a US Interstate highway, where lane discipline is completely absent (outside of Montana of course.)





      • 8 Years Ago
      Young Drivers Make Mistakes !!!!!
      Granted, it takes a while for people to fully appreciate the laws of physics in the case of driving, However THE ONLY and i repeat, THE ONLY way to drastically reduce the death rates on US Roads is to implement UK / European Strenght Testing methods, I travel to the US frequently and use the roads often as a chance to test new vehicles and i am appaled at the things drivers do on the roads. given the size and how straight most of your roads are the americans have no clue what assets they have and how they are wasting it.
      Ask yourselves why the Speed limits on your Interstates are often 55-65 Mph when even the smallest engined vehicle produced today can cruise comfortably at 90 Mph and braking distances have almost doubled since the 1960s
      It is because of criminal driving behaviour and absurdly large vehicles being driven by single occupants, you guys need to get over the whole Bigger is Better mentality.
      Also i beleive the reason the sale of large SUVs have been on the increase is it now seen as a safer vehicle to be in in case of a collision but it then encourages the drivers of these Behemoths to drive with absolute abandon and disregard of other road users and it becomes a self-feeding cycle, hopefully gas prices will reach $1.00 a Litre ($5.00 Per Gallon) and this should help with the sale reduction.
      ALL THAT WAS JUST MY OPINION
      • 8 Years Ago
      This is all a load of crap. Half of the people around the age of 16 are better drivers than most of the older nimrods out there.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think the passenger restriction is a good idea as well. If you look at the much more strictly regulated Aviation certificates, there are definitely restrictions for carrying passengers as well as other safety related conditions for inexperienced pilots. Young drivers experience a myriad more situations and are vastly less well trained than even the most junior of Private Pilots. It makes sense to curtail risking of life to themselves when they are driving for a certain time.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Correlation does not imply causation.

      Is the 21% decrease in deaths due to laws (that's what the pols want you to believe) or safer cars? I tend to believe it's more of the latter than the former.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Also, this crap about driving being a privilege, as opposed to a right, is getting pretty old. Why is this, exactly? Because the government needs something to lord over us? I don't see why owning a vehicle doesn't engender the (qualified) right to drive it on public roads. (Qualified: licensing still applies. Just like a gun license.)
      • 8 Years Ago
      That's it, Bob--training, training, training. When I was learning to drive, I was amazed (though stoked) by how easy it was to get a license. The driver's ed classes mandatory in California's public schools are a joke. My behind-the-wheel classes amounted to maybe an hour and a half of actual seat time. Then it was a simple matter of driving around a couple blocks near the DMV--no parallel parking, no freeway, no thick traffic.

      I'm only 24 now, and I just squeaked past the date when curfews and passenger restrictions were put into effect for new drivers. At the time, of course, I thought the laws were pretty fascist, but then I also thought I was socially entitled to drive a car, which no one is. It's true that it's tougher and tougher to function without a car, as it becomes assumed that young people have access to one (same with computers and cell phones). But we really need to cultivate an understanding that driving is a privelege, and that you're SOL if you abuse it. I didn't get it when I was 16...

      Oh, and Corey, it's a halter top. :-)
      • 8 Years Ago
      I have it on good authority that Alex gave a lot more reasons than "it's not fair" when discussing the driving age. Among other things, he pointed the USA Today reporter to a study by Mike Males (you can find it at http://www.youthrights.org/docs/teendriving.pdf) that actually equalized the driving accidents between age groups for poverty and miles driven.
      This, mind-blowingly, is the first study that takes poverty into account when checking age differences in driving safety. Poverty is a huge factor--poorer counties have poorer roads and poorer medical care, with less access to what medical care there is, poorer individuals tend to live in poorer counties and have poorer medical care, as well as drive cars that are less safe--and yet no one bothered to equalize for it. Black people have higher crime rates because they live in higher poverty and yet teenagers, who are overwhelmingly poorer than their elders, are bad drivers inherently?
      There's a reason teenagers living in poverty have 750% more fatal crashes than rich teens. After equalizing for poverty, teenagers have only a forty percent higher crash rates than middle-aged adults, who are the safest age demographic when it comes to driving. That's less than the difference between men and women.
      Note that this is only a California study (Dr. Males lives in California), but I'd suspect a nationwide study would have similar results. What I don't understand is why no one bothers to do nationwide studies on the effect of poverty on age differences in driving.
      If we want to make our roads safer, make testing more difficult, training more comprehensive, raise the legal BAC level (or go to "detectable level" no matter the age of the drinking driver), and have a graduated license program across age lines. Have regular re-testing at shorter intervals. A new driver at age forty is just as dangerous as a new driver at age sixteen.
      In fact, if age has to come into it, it's a fact that elderly drivers are more dangerous drivers (before poverty is equalized, but then senior citizens aren't living in poverty as much as young people are). They are much more likely to have poorer eyesight, slower reaction times, and health conditions that increase the likelihood of accidents for other drivers on the road (I'm thinking of heart attacks and strokes here). Mandate a higher frequency of tests for people on the other end of the age spectrum too. And test for eyesight problems for frequently for people with highly degenerative eyesight conditions like myself.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I remember them telling me driving is a privilege. It should be a right. :P
      • 8 Years Ago
      "..... while states with less restrictive laws reduced by up to 11%."
      Did anyone besides me wonder why the states with "less restrictive laws" also saw a significant drop in their teenage death rates?
      • 6 Years Ago
      nice conversation here, issues such as this is very apparent nowadays...
      Tim
      • 8 Years Ago
      Here in NC we have all of those rules...no driving after 9 until you've had it a year, no passengers for 6 months, etc. However, at my high school, we had FOUR deaths in this one school year alone from car accidents. A major factor in each was alcohol. There has to be more effective ways to train young drivers and also teach the dangers of drinking and driving.
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