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National Study Indicates Graduated License Law Saves Lives

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), teenagers have the most significant risk of being involved in an accident. Researchers cite the lack of experience, leading young drivers to improperly gauge both their skills behind the wheel and the dangers they face. In a recent IIHS study, officials found that instituting a graduated licensing system led to nearly a 30% reduction in teen traffic accidents in some jurisdictions.

Every state currently has some form of graduated drivers license (GDL) program for teen drivers. Typically, it involves limited driving after dark, restrictions on how many other teens may be in a car driven by a teen, and minimum requirements of adult-supervised driving. Some jurisdictions set a higher age for young drivers to get learner permits or full driving privileges. Officials say that, though teens may express frustration at not getting full driving privileges, the statistics show that everyone benefits when teens have the opportunity to build their skills in safer conditions. They note that those states with the strongest laws have experienced the most significant reductions in teen motor vehicle accidents.

In its study, the IIHS looked at statistics from all 50 states, and categorized each state’s GDP system as good, fair, marginal or poor, based on five criteria:

The age at which a teen may obtain a learner’s permit
The number of supervised practice hours required
The age at which a teen obtains full driving privileges
The existence and time of the nightly curfew for teen drivers
Whether the state law allowed a teen to have any teen passengers

GDL laws rated as good produced, on average, a 30% reduction in accidents involving 15-17-year-old drivers. GDL laws listed as fair were tied to about a 10% reduction.
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