SOURCE: Automobile Club of Southern California

June 22, 2006 10:00 ET

Graduated Driver License Law Credited With Lower Death and Injury Rates for 16-Year-Old Drivers

LOS ANGELES, CA -- (MARKET WIRE) -- June 22, 2006 -- Death and injury crashes for 16-year-old drivers were 20 percent lower in a state with nighttime and passenger restrictions compared to a jurisdiction without these limits, according to a study released today by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. The study, comparing Oregon with Ontario, Canada, mirrors a 2001 Automobile Club of Southern California study confirming the effectiveness of California's graduated driver license law in helping keep new drivers safe.

The Auto Club helped craft California's Graduated Driver License law, which was among the first in the nation when it went into effect in1998. All other states have now enacted some components of GDL. California's law is considered among the most protective.

"This study shows what the Auto Club has maintained for years, that young drivers need time to develop experience and judgment before meeting the challenges they face on the road," said Auto Club spokesperson Carol Thorp. "Restricting driving in the most dangerous situations, driving at night and driving with other teens, is among the most important building blocks of teaching teens to drive safely."

The AAA study found that teens who obey traffic rules and follow GDL regulations are much less likely to crash. For example, 30 percent of crash-free teens, but only 16 percent of crash-involved teens, reported that they never violated passenger restrictions during their first six months in the provisional stage of GDL. Nearly half of the crash-involved teens reported violating the passenger restrictions "more than a few times."

In addition, 13 percent of crash-free teens reported receiving a traffic citation compared to 33 percent of crash-involved teens. Teens who had not been involved in crashes reported higher levels of parental monitoring, compared to teens that had been in crashes.

"The study makes it clear that teens who obey traffic laws, follow GDL provisions and have actively involved parents are much less likely to be in crashes," Thorp said.

An analysis by the AAA Foundation of federal crash data also found that July and August are particularly dangerous for young drivers. From 1995-2004, the study found that 20 percent more 16 and 17-year-old drivers were killed in crashes during these months than during other months.

"Summer vacation for teen drivers often means less structure and not as much oversight by mom and dad. That can lead to more crashes," Thorp said. "Enforcing safe driving rules that include passenger and nighttime limits is essential to keeping teens and others safe on the road."

California enacted its GDL law because teens are so highly overrepresented in traffic crashes. The law requires young drivers to spend more time behind the wheel to gain the experience needed for safe driving. Teens must hold an instruction permit for six months before applying for a provision license. During this time, they must log 50 hours of adult-supervised driving practice. The law also restricts late-night driving during the first year of a provisional license. The law prohibits drivers with a provisional license from driving with a passenger under 20 years of age without adult supervision.

The Auto Club has produced a brochure "Teen Drivers, a Guide to California's Graduated Driver License," which is available through Auto Club offices in Southern California.

For the AAA Foundation study, the Traffic Injury Research Foundation, located in Toronto, Canada, compared crash rates and crash patterns of teenage drivers in Oregon, which has nighttime and passengers restrictions during the provisional stage of GDL, to those in Ontario, Canada whose GDL program did not include such restrictions. TIRF also surveyed a random sample of 1,000 teens, half of whom were crash-free and half were crash-involved. The characteristics of a sample of crash-free and crash-involved teens and their parents were also compared and contrasted.

The Automobile Club of Southern California, the largest affiliate of the AAA, has been serving members since 1900. Today, the Auto Club's members benefit by roadside assistance, insurance products and services, travel agency, financial products, automotive pricing and buying programs, automotive testing and analysis, trip planning services and highway and transportation safety programs. Information about these products and services is available on the Auto Club's Web site at www.aaa.com.

Contact Information

  • Contact:
    Carol Thorp or Paul Gonzales
    714-885-2333