Graduated Driver's Licensing Saves Lives: Study

THURSDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- Three-stage graduated licensing for teens and other new drivers prevents injuries and saves lives, say U.S. researchers who analyzed five years of crash data from six states -- Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin.

More than 300 lives could have been saved if all of these states had added new, evidence-based modifications to their graduated driver's licensing (GDL) programs, study leader Dr. Timothy Corden, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Medical College of Wisconsin, and colleagues reported in a university news release.

The study authors also concluded that more than 21,400 traffic injuries could have been prevented if all these states had instituted at least five of seven components recommended by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety:

  • Minimum age of 16 years for obtaining a learner's permit.
  • A waiting period of at least six months after obtaining a learner's permit before applying for an intermediate-phase license.
  • At least 30 hours of supervised driving.
  • Minimum age of 16.5 years for entering the intermediate phase.
  • No unsupervised driving at night after 10 p.m. during the intermediate phase.
  • No unsupervised driving during the intermediate phase with more than one passenger younger than 20.
  • Minimum age of 17 for a full license.

"Our study lends support for states moving to include more of the best-practice components included within the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recommendations for state GDL regulations," the researchers said. "This could be viewed as a 'policy treatment prescription' capable of keeping teenagers alive and families intact."

While some politicians may be reluctant to revise GDL laws, parents are generally supportive of GDL programs and play an important role in the development of successful GDL policies, the researchers said.

The study was published online in the Wisconsin Medical Journal.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more about graduated driver's licensing.

SOURCE: Medical College of Wisconsin, news release, Nov. 16, 2009

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