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Graduated Drivers Licenses and Teen Highway Safety – June 13, 2012

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety released a study indicating that at least 500 lives could be saved, and more than 9500 vehicle crashes avoided, if every state adopted all five components of the toughest young driver laws in the nation. They estimated that Missouri could reduce its collision claims among drivers 16-17 years of age by 19 percent, and fatalities among 15-17 year olds by 44 percent, if tougher laws were adopted.  In Illinois those numbers were 15 percent and 41 percent respectively.

The five current best practices are a minimum intermediate license age of seventeen, a minimum permit age of sixteen, at least sixty-five hours of supervised practice hours and during the intermediate stage, a night driving restriction starting at 8 p.m. and a ban on all teenage passengers.  Connecticut’s laws come the closest to that “best practices” standard.

The Institutes studies have shown that the states with the strongest laws benefit from the largest reductions in fatal crashes among 15-17 year olds and the largest reduction in vehicle collision claims reported by 16-17 year olds. The general idea is that graduated licensing allows teenagers to gradually build up their driving experience and on-the-road skills as they mature.

States began adopting graduated licensing elements in the mid 1990s and by the year 200, all but 9 states had adopted some version of graduated licensing laws.  There is no nationwide system, with varying laws. The Institute has established studies to determine a “best practices” standard.

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