Legislative advocacy is key to addressing teen driving deaths
- Correspondence to: Ms J S Gillan Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, 750 First Street, Northeast, Suite 901, Washington, DC 20002, USA;
- Accepted 27 April 2006
The increased crash risk of young, novice drivers, especially in their teenage years, has been a growing concern at both the state and federal levels. Teenage drivers are involved in fatal crashes at more than double the rate of the rest of the population per 100 000 licensed drivers. The best way of stemming these losses is to enact laws adopting graduated licensure systems that restrict young, novice drivers to conditions that reduce crash risk exposure when they first operate motor vehicles and to educate the public on the need for this legislation. Legislated teenage driving restrictions involve night-time vehicle driving restrictions, prohibitions on other teenage passengers, and the required presence of supervising adults. These restrictions are relaxed as teenage drivers successfully progress through initial and intermediate stages of graduated licensure before being granted unrestricted driver licenses. Unfortunately, many states have incomplete graduated licensing systems that need further legislative action to raise them to the desirable three-stage system that has been shown repeatedly to produce the greatest safety benefits. These state efforts should be buttressed by federal legislation that has proved to be crucial in allied driver behavioral concerns. Because reducing crash risk involves other strategies, stringent enforcement of primary seat belt laws as well as improved motor vehicle crash avoidance capabilities and crashworthiness must accompany efforts to reduce young driver crash risk.
- GDL, graduated licensing system
- MADD, Mothers Against Drunk Driving
- NHTSA, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
- SAFETEA-LU, Safe Transportation Equity Act, A Legacy for Users
- STANDUP, Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection Act of 2005
Competing interests: I have no financial position in any competing interest, and I have never received funds from private interests. I am vice president of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an organization dedicated to reducing the harm caused by motor vehicle crashes and which is supported by insurers.