Graduated Driver Licensing Reduces Youthful Drinking & Driving

by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 20 in the U.S. and occur at twice the rate of those over age 20. Two out of five deaths among teens in the United States result from motor vehicle crashes. The traffic accident risk for young drivers is greatest at night, and increases when teenage passengers are in the car.

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) reduces the high risks faced by new drivers by requiring them to get their initial driving experiences under low risk conditions. All 50 States use some form of Graduated Driver Licensing to reduce the crash risk of underage youths by providing a transition into the complexities of driving.

States vary in the extent to which they restrict driving behavior among young drivers. The more restrictive laws require new drivers be accompanied by an adult and place requirements on driving hours and/or the number of passengers allowed in a car while the young driver is behind the wheel.

Young drivers aged 15 to 17 in states with more restrictive driver-licensing laws had lower rates of driving under the influence of alcohol than those in States with less restrictive laws, according to data from the National Household surveys of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) collected in 1999, 200, and 2001.

In the most restrictive states, 8.2% of the 15-17 year old drivers reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, while 11.5% of young drivers drove under the influence of alcohol in the least restrictive states.

The report, Graduated Driver Licensing and Drinking among Young drivers, is published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

 

References and Readings

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