The Michigan Daily - Thursday, January 21, 1999 - 9A
'Study reviews effectiveness of graduated licenses
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Graduated driver's
licenses have taken root in the East Coast and
will be debated by 15 Western states this year,
but a study indicates that some laws may save
more lives than others.
Graduated-license laws phase in the times and
ituations under which young people can get
behind the wheel. The laws' most critical ele-
ments are restrictions on teen-agers' nighttime
driving and a requirement that initial driving be
supervised by an adult.
Traffic experts also believe it helps to ban or
limit teen-age passengers and to withhold full
driving privileges until a driver reaches age 18.
"Not all graduated systems are created equal,
and not all will have the same benefits," Allan
Williams, senior vice president of research at the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said yes-
The institute, in conjunction with the Traffic
Injury Research Foundation in Canada, released
research yesterday that showed effects of the grad-
uated driving law adopted by Florida in 1996.
It requires a six-month learner's period, bans
driving by 16-year-olds between 11 p.m. and 6
a.m. and withholds full privileges until a driver
reaches 18. All drivers below 21 are subject to a
zero-tolerance policy on drinking and driving.
Since then, 23 other states have made varying
changes to their laws. Most of the other 27 states
and the District of Columbia are expected to
debate an array of changes during their current
legislative sessions. With the exception of
California, which has already updated its teen-
driving law, the majority of remaining states are
west of the Mississippi River.
The Insurance Institute found that during
1997, the number of fatal and injury crashes
involving 15- to 17-year-olds in Florida was 9
percent below what would have been expected
without the licensing change.
Crashes declined most for 15-year-olds, the
study found, and nighttime crashes involving
those from 15 to 17 years old were 17 percent
below what otherwise would have been expected.
The institute, a research group funded by insur-
ance companies, found that there was no change in
fatal and injury crashes in neighboring Alabama,
which has yet to change its teen driving law.
"Both inexperience and immaturity contribute
to high crash rates with young drivers," said
Daniel Mayhew, senior vice president at the
Traffic Injury Research Foundation. "Graduated
systems can address both by delaying the age of
full-license driving until 18."
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