Florida is one of several states that offer new teenage drivers a graduated program, restrictions on their first months and years behind the wheel. Now a new study published Wednesday, October 14, in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) shows that while the number of fatal crashes among 16 and 17-year-olds has declined, deadly accidents among 18 to 19-year-olds have risen.
JAMA study researchers found that states that restrict teen driving had a 26% reduction in the rate of fatal crashes among young teen drivers, but the fatal crash rate for 18-year-old drivers in those states jumped 12%.
Car Crashes- Leading Cause of Teen Deaths
Graduated driver licensing programs restrict young drivers from being on the road at night and driving with passengers and talking on cellphones.
With a goal of reducing the number of Florida car crashes involving teen drivers, Florida was the first state to implement a program in 1996 and since then all 50 states and the District of Columbia have added the program. One year after the program became law, Florida saw a 9% reduction in fatalities and injuries for teen drivers ages 15 to 17.
The theory behind the older accident rate may be that 18-year-olds are waiting to get their drivers license because of the restrictions imposed on a 16-year-old driver, therefore putting older teen novice drivers on the road.
One solution to these findings may be to extend the graduated driver licensing programs to older teen drivers. In fact, New Jersey has restrictions on a new license that lasts until the age of 21.
Sources: http://www.latimes.com/health/la-he-teen-driver-laws-20110914,0,7056006.storyS; http://www.flhsmv.gov/hsmvdocs/CS2010.pdf; http://www.lowestpricetrafficschool.com/driver-education/florida-graduated-drivers-license.html