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Graduated driver's licenses could curb teen crash fatalities

Posted on in Car Accidents

While California is among 15 states that prohibits teenagers from driving with other teens as passengers, its laws governing young drivers are far from the strictest in the nation. According to a 2012 analysis by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the Highway Loss Data Institute, the state could potentially substantially reduce the rate of fatal crashes among 15- to 17-year-old drivers and the rate of collision claims for 16- and 17-year-old drivers by strengthening its laws to match the current best-practices system.

The IIHS reported that no state's laws perfectly mirror its prescribed best practices for a graduated licensing system, which include prohibiting teen passengers in young drivers' vehicles as well as bumping up the minimum age for obtaining permits and licenses, restricting night driving and establishing a minimum number of supervised practice hours that must be met before a young driver obtains his or her intermediate license. Even Connecticut, which the IIHS identified as having the most robust graduated driver licensing laws on the books, could stand to benefit significantly from establishing guidelines for practice hours, night driving and the minimum licensing age. The Institute predicted a 17 percent reduction in deadly crashes and a 13 percent drop in teen drivers' accident claims if that were to happen.

States with weak or no GDL provisions stand to benefit the most from strengthening or implementing them. The percentage of fatal crashes for drivers in the 15- to 17-year-old group in Iowa and South Dakota, for example, could plummet as much as 29 and 37 percent, respectively.

Young drivers are among the highest-risk group for car accidents due to several factors, primary among which is inexperience. The adoption of stronger GDL laws could curb the number of collisions overall as young drivers amass more driving experience, but accidents are still bound to happen. If the accident is due to the negligence of another driver, a personal injury lawyer may be able to assist an injured car accident victim with filing a lawsuit to recover compensation for medical expenses, lost wages due to missing work and other damages.

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