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Singing the Praises of Graduated Drivers Licensing Programs

By Posted : 03/06/2007

You're lucky if you and your teenage children live in a state with a graduated drivers licensing program. These systems are designed to ease young novice drivers into experienced motorists by gradually exposing them to increasingly demanding driving experiences and licensing stages. Upwards of 40 states have three-stage graduated licensing systems. Several other states have portions of graduating licensing programs in-place. And these programs produce results.

Why are these programs so important?
Statistics show that the fatality crash rate for 16-year-old drivers dropped sharply after states started implementing graduated licensing laws in the mid-1990s. For instance, fatal crash involvement based on the population of 16 year-olds declined 26 percent during the 10-year period ended in 2003. This is the main finding of a new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety study (IIHS). The overall number of 16-year-old drivers in fatal crashes decreased from 1,084 in 1993 to 938 in 2003, while during the same period there was an 18 percent increase in the 16-year-old population.

Graduated licensing programs consist of three stages/phases:

  • Stage One (Learner's Permit) - The young driver must be accompanied by a licensed adult.
  • Stage Two (Intermediate License) - The driver takes a behind the-wheel road driving test and can drive alone, with restrictions. There are limits on night driving and transporting teen passengers.
  • Stage three - Full licensing.

Teenagers still a major road hazard
But make no mistake -- even with the encouraging findings of the IIHS, teenage drivers still shape up as a major hazard on America's highways. Teenagers drive less than most older drivers, but - alarmingly -- the number of crashes and crash deaths are disproportionately high for teenage motorists. Want proof?

The IIHS reports that, based on crashes of all degrees, the crash rate per mile driven amount 16 to 19 year olds ranks four times greater than the risk among older drivers. Vehicular accident risk runs highest for 16 year olds, according to the IIHS. Matter of fact, the crash rate per mile driven is twice as high among 16 year olds as it in among those in the 18-19-year-old age group.

So why are the crash rates so high among young drivers? It's because of "young drivers" immaturity combined with driving inexperience," answered IIHS spokesman Russ Rader. He says that the immaturity is evident "in the speeding, tailgating and other risky driving practices of many young drivers."

What can you teach your teenage driver to help them drive more safely?
Here are five important driving tips that every teen should know:

  • Drive defensively
  • Limit distractions
  • Buckle up for safety
  • Don't drink and drive
  • Obey the speed limit

Please note that this description/explanation is intended only as a guideline.

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