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Graduated driver's licensing laws produce mixed results on preventing car accidents

New York like practically every other state has graduated driver's licensing laws. Though the laws vary from state to state the point of the laws is to require teenage drivers under the age of 18 to build a depth of experience on the road before they are given an unrestrained license. Graduated driver's licensing laws have been heralded for preventing fatal car accidents among teenagers, but a recent study shows the effect of the law varies when broken down according to age group.

According to a recent study, graduated driver's licensing laws have led to fewer fatal car accidents among 16-year-old drivers, but the laws have been associated with more fatal accidents among 18-year-old drivers. Graduated driver's licensing laws have been associated with safer driving behavior among teenagers. Such laws grant unrestrained licenses after drivers younger than 18 complete multiple months of driving with an adult and additional driving with conditions on the number of passengers and night-time driving.

In many states that have graduated driver's licensing laws, teenagers can gain an unrestrained license without going through driver education or driver training at age 18. As a result, many teenagers are putting off going through the driver's license process until they turn 18. Teenagers who wait until age 18 likely lack driving experience and may be more likely to get into a deadly car accident.

The recent study reviewed fatal teenage accidents from 1986 to 2007, and the researchers found the driving restrictions were associated with 26 percent fewer deadly car accidents among 16-year-olds, but the laws were associated with 12 percent more fatal crashes among 18-year-olds.

Source: The Associated Press, "Curbs on youngest drivers may have bad side effect," Lindsey Tanner, Sept. 13, 2011

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