Teen Driver Safety Can Be Improved According to New Data

A new national study shows that states can reduce fatal accidents among teen drivers by making licensing laws more stringent. The new study expands on research by AAA in mid-May, indicating teen drivers are at a higher risk for accidents with passengers in the car. The new Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) study indicates that graduated licensing can always be more effective.

Graduated licensing is a system for teaching young drivers to be responsible on the roadways. The first recommendation for making roads safer is to increase the age at which drivers may obtain a learners permit. This problem is most prominent in many rural areas, such as South Dakota and Iowa, where the permit age is around 14!

The traditional reason for granting permits at such a young age was to allow children of farmers to help out around the farm. Although some states have transitioned away from this draconian trend and have succeeded in raising the permit age, others still fight the rural necessity argument. For families that live in the rural countryside, parents can have a hard time transporting their children to all the activities they participate in.

Lawmakers are hesitant to increase age limits due to concerns surrounding the political unrest about such a change. But data from the new study shows that increasing a minimum permit age from 14 to just 15 ½ could provide significant safety benefits. In South Dakota specifically, the study says fatalities could drop by 16 percent with the 1.5 year age adjustment.

After teens get a learners permit, states set different minimums for the number of supervised hours a teen needs to get a license. Increasing the number of supervised hours mandated for a license could also improve road safety.

This fact correlates back to the study from mid-May that indicated young drivers are safer when someone 35 or older is in the car. The IIHS data says that Pennsylvania’s supervised hour requirement is one of the best, at 65 hours with an adult in the vehicle.

In addition to longer supervision periods, states with the most successful graduated systems also place restrictions on teens in the intermediate phase of licensing. The intermediate licensing phase is a period of time usually from permit age to 18 years old, where teens can lose their license privileges for ticketed violations. Intermediate licensees also are restricted in terms of the number of passengers in the vehicle and the hours of day they can drive.

The IIHS study suggests that the safest states completely prohibit teens to have teenage passengers. Furthermore, safer states limit driving hours either by time or by daylight restrictions. Restrictions of this nature promote safety by reducing distractions young drivers are not prepared to handle.

While no restriction can make the roads foolproof, IIHS data strongly suggests that teens could be safer on the roads if states would take a harder line on driving rules. According to IIHS predictions, if every state improved licensing restrictions, roughly 500 lives could be saved per year. Some of the rules, such as age restrictions and passenger limitations, are not popular, but they promote an important end-goal of keeping teens alive.

A harrowing crash in Ohio during the early morning hours of Sunday June 3 is a reminder of how serious teen driving accidents can be. The accident was a one car rollover. Four teens died and one is still hospitalized. The driver and one other passenger in the vehicle were set to graduate later that day.

According to the Dayton Daily News, police do not believe alcohol or drugs were involved in the accident. Reconstruction studies thus far postulate that the teen driver sped over a raised railroad track at 50 mph and then the car caught air. The driver lost control on the other side of tracks, swerved back and forth, plowed into a tree, and rolled onto the road coming to rest upside down.

The first fireman to the scene depicted the horror when he called for airlift life support and assistance to cut the vehicle apart in order to remove victims. If you or a loved one is involved in such a devastating crash you should contact an auto accident attorney to handle the legal matters for you.

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