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Driving Laws for Teens Not Effective in Preventing Overall Crash Fatalities

A nationwide study has shown that stricter licensing laws for new teen drivers have had their intended effect of lowering fatal accidents among 16-year-olds, but statistics show that fatal accidents among 18-year-olds is on the rise as a result, according to news sources.

Laws have been put in place in recent years that have been credited with a 30% drop in fatal highway crashes among teens. These laws, though they vary from state, include required driving programs, an extended time in which the learning license must be held, and logging hours behind the wheel. Restrictions have also been put into place which prohibit teen drivers from driving late at night or with other teenagers.

Most statistics look to 16-year-olds for data about the improvement of highway safety, but a recent study in California expanded the data to include teens up to 19 years old. After examining data over a 21-year-period, researchers found that the crashes are still happening, they’re just happening a couple years later.

For example, since driver programs were first implemented, there have been 1,348 less fatal crashes of 16-year-olds, but 1,086 more fatal crashes involving 18-year-olds. While that is a small improvement, it’s not the 30% decrease originally thought.

The leader of the research believes the numbers are indicative of teens waiting until they turn 18 to get a license, rather than deal with the limits placed on younger drivers.

He also proposed that teens going through diver programs don’t get as much experience as real-life driving situations provide when one is alone without someone telling them what to do.

Other research has pointed to simple mistakes as the reason teen drivers have such high crash statistics. Experts recommend adult drivers point out simple mistakes to teens as examples to make them aware of the distractions that can occur while driving. Another study found lack of sleep among teens to be a factor in crash rates.

As an auto accident attorney in Seattle, it seems to me that law makers need to try a different approach in order to educate young drivers about safety on the road. In my experience as a Seattle car accident lawyer, I’ve seen many instances in which a young driver was unprepared for conditions on the road, leading to serious accidents. If you are the parent of a young driver, please emphasize to them the serious matter that driving is, and educate them about the consequences of unsafe driving.