The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has long recommended that states reform Graduated Driver’s Licensing laws, but a new report by the group shows just how many lives–and dollars–the reforms could save.
Currently, all 50 states in the union have some form of graduated driver’s licensing regulations, which start teen drivers at the supervised stage–forcing them to drive with a learner’s permit and constant adult supervision–before moving on to the licensed stage. Initially, teen drivers with licenses must comply with regulations like those limiting passengers or night-time driving hours, before they are allowed to drive with a completely unrestricted, adult license.
Two separate research reports by the IIHS over the past three years have suggested that increased GDL regulations can lower the risk of accidents or fatalities among teens, and a May 30 report takes the statistics to a new level and shows exactly what each state can save, should it enact stricter regulations.
The IIHS‘s ideal scenario is cobbled from multiple states’ approach. The best case, it argues, would be where teens get their learner’s permits at 16, keep it for one year, and have 65 hours of supervised practice. Once 17 year olds get their licenses, the IIHS recommends restricting driving after 8:00 PM, and prohibiting teenage passengers.
The IIHS report–which comes with a slick online calculator–suggests that if you were to enact those regulations in Michigan (where the permit age is 14 years 9 months, teens must have 50 hours of supervised driving, the license age is 16, the night driving cut-off is 10:00 PM, and licensed teens can have one passenger), you could reduce statewide teen collision claims by 14 percent and teen fatal crashes by 42 percent. Do the same thing with South Dakota (where the license age is 14 years 3 months, the lowest in the union), and you could reduce fatal crashes in the state by 63 percent.
Because states are on their own to enact these regulations, there’s no way to enact one 50-state solution, and many states have resisted some of the regulations, citing them as too strict. The IIHS response is this: not all regulations affect the same change. Increasing the licensing and permit ages, for example, have a greater effect on fatal crash reduction than increasing practice hours. Likewise, reducing passengers would probably reduce crashes more than limiting night driving.
In all, the group suggests that giving all 50 states the strictest legislation could save about 500 lives a year and prevent 9,500 crashes by 15 to 17-year-olds.
The IIHS’s online calculator is available at www.iihs.org/gdl.
Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety