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Tougher Restrictions Could Reduce Teen Driving Accidents

Graduated Driver License laws have definitely had an impact on the number of teen fatalities caused by traffic accidents. That impact is not enough, according to the chief strategist for the National Safety Council. In a recent speech, he called for new restrictions and requirements designed to help keep teen drivers safe.

Among the changes proposed are an increase in behind the wheel training and more real-world testing of driving skills. Asking a teen to perform an action on a practice course is not the same as asking for it in highway traffic. A further requirement would involve an orientation for parents of would-be drivers. That requirement reflects the reality that parents carry much of the load when it comes to teaching their kids the right and wrong ways to operate a motor vehicle.

The amount of supervised training received by young drivers is one area of particular concern. In New Jersey, a probationary license can be granted after only 6 hours of behind the wheel training. The NSC is recommending that be increased to 50 hours. The burden of additional hours will, again, fall on parents. The orientation would be used to help explain to parents the scientific basis of the new requirements.

There is still debate on how well GDL laws are working. Some argue that the reduction in teen driver deaths has come from the number of 16-year-olds simply choosing not to get their licenses until later. The reduction in teen driving deaths is then just offset by a corresponding increase in deaths among slightly older drivers. It is not clear in an inexperienced teen is in more danger than an inexperienced 21-year-old when it comes to driving. It is clear that fewer 16-year-olds are getting driver's licenses than in the past.

Source: NorthJersey.com, "Road Warrior: A big reach for teen driving safety," by John Cichowski, 29 May 2015 

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