Graduated Driver Licensing Reduces Fatal Crashes by 11 Percent

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Driving Safely

Graduated driver licensing programs reduce, by an average of 11 percent, the incidence of fatal crashes of 16-year-old drivers, according to a study by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health's Center for Injury Research and Policy and the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. When examining the most comprehensive programs, which include at least five of seven components [see list below], the researchers found about a 20 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers. The report was supported primarily by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Graduated driver licensing programs are a popular way to reduce the risk of vehicle crashes for novice drivers. We already knew that the programs reduced crash rates of young drivers, but we didn't know which programs were most effective in reducing risk," said Susan P. Baker, MPH, lead author of the study and a professor in the Bloomberg School of Public Health's Department of Health Policy and Management and Center for Injury Research and Policy. "After completing our study, it is clear that more comprehensive programs have the greatest effect."

"This study strongly underscores the effectiveness of graduated licensing laws. To states searching for solutions to the tragic problem of fatal crashes involving teenagers, it provides extremely valuable new information," said Nicole Nason, NHTSA Administrator.

Graduated driver licensing programs differ in each state. The Hopkins researchers based their analyses on the presence of the following components, chosen for analysis because they are commonly found in existing programs:

  • A minimum age of 15 1/2 for obtaining a learner permit

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  • A waiting period after obtaining a learner permit of at least 3 months before applying for an intermediate license

  • A minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving

  • Minimum age of at least 16 years for obtaining an intermediate state license

  • Minimum age of at least 17 years for full licensing

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