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Some states could halve or more than halve their rate of fatal crashes among 15- to 17-year-olds if they adopted strongest graduated driver licensing (GDL) provisions.
A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) indicates that more than 9,500 collisions could be prevented each year and more than 500 lives saved if every state adopted all five components of the toughest young driver laws in the nation. Some states could halve or more than halve their rate of fatal crashes among 15- to 17-year-olds if they adopted the strongest graduated driver licensing (GDL) provisions.
A new online calculator developed by the Institute and HLDI shows individual states the safety gains they could achieve by adopting some or all of the most beneficial GDL provisions in effect today. The five key components are permit age, practice driving hours, license age, night driving and teen passenger restrictions.
The current best practices are a minimum intermediate license age of 17 (New Jersey), a minimum permit age of 16 (Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Rhode Island), at least 65 supervised practice hours (Pennsylvania) and, during the intermediate stage, a night driving restriction starting at 8 p.m. (Idaho and South Carolina during daylight savings time) and a ban on all teen passengers (15 states and D.C.).
Prior Institute and HLDI research has shown that states with the strongest laws enjoy the biggest reductions in fatal crashes among 15- to 17-year-old drivers and the biggest reductions in collisions reported to insurers among 16- to 17-year-old drivers, compared with states with weak laws.
“Even the best states can do better,” says Anne McCartt, Institute senior vice president for research. “There’s room for improvement across the board, and states could see immediate reductions in fatal crashes and collision claims as soon as the beefed-up provisions are in force.”
In the mid-1990s, states began adopting elements of graduated licensing. By December 2000, all but nine states had GDL laws. Since there is no nationwide GDL system, the laws vary.