One of the things that California teenagers look forward to is the day that they can get their driver's license. Turning sixteen is typically marked with the rite of passage which gives teenagers a little more freedom to go where they please. But like many teens in other states, California teenagers are given a restricted license when they turn sixteen.
These types of restricted licenses are intended to reduce the number of car accidents that teens can get into. New drivers are statistically more at risk of getting into an accident; younger drivers also increase the risk. But new research is raising some questions about these graduated driver licensing programs and the effectiveness that they are intended to have.
The GDL program in California boasts some of the strictest restrictions when compared to other states. Hopeful drivers must pass a driving test and then adhere to rules that ban them from driving at certain times at night and prohibits them from driving around friends without an adult in the car. After a certain period of time, the driver can get a full license barring any issues.
If the intent of the programs is to reduce the risk of fatal car accidents in teens, results of the study show that this is true for drivers who are 16- and 17-years old. The number of fatal accidents that occur among drivers in this age group has decreased. But the concern is that the rate of fatal crash rates has actually increased for new drivers in the 18- and 19-year-old age range.
One hypothesis for this increase in the older teenagers' crash rate is that states with strict license programs only require the restrictions for drivers who are 16-years-old. That means that if a teenager waits until they turn 18, they can avoid the graduated licensing program and get a full license. Despite the fact that they are older, 18-year-olds are still inexperienced when it comes to driving.
These statistics raise the question: should these licensing programs extent to 18-year-olds as well?
Source: Los Angeles Times: "Teen driver restrictions a mixed bag," Shari Roan, Sept. 13, 2011
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