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Graduated Drivers Licenses Save Florida Teen Drivers from Fatal Accidents

Posted on November 9, 2011

There is finally some good news to report about teenage drivers. For years, horrific headlines told the tales of late night car crashes with a vehicle full of teens.

Now a study funded by the National Institutes of Health shows that graduated driver licensing programs have been effective in reducing the number of fatal crashes involving teens by eight to 14 percent.

All 50 states have some form of a graduated license where privileges are phased in as the teen ages and gains experience behind the wheel.

The biggest reductions in fatal crashes were seen in states that also had a mandatory seat belt law, revoked a license if the teen was caught with alcohol, limited nighttime driving with teen passengers, set age 16 as a minimum age for a learner’s permit, and allowed a young driver to be fully licensed at the minimum age of 17.

Looking at statistics on teen fatalities behind the wheel, researchers found that the laws did not appear to be as effective among Hispanic drivers as they were among African-American, Asian and Caucasian drivers. The laws were found to be most effective at reducing Florida alcohol-related crash fatalities.

Florida’s Graduated Driver’s License

In Florida, the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) was established because young teens have about 15 times the accident rate of those with several more years behind the wheel. Florida is one of 13 states that has adopted a three-phase system. After the program became law in July 1996, there was a 9 percent drop in fatalities and auto crashes involving injury for teens ages 15 to 17.

The restrictions include:

  • For phase one, the teen must be 15.
  • Must have a social security number.
  • Show they have completed substance abuse and traffic law education.
  • Must have a guardian sign the Parental Consent form before an official witness.
  • Must pass a written test on road rules and signs.
  • Must limit driving after dark for the first three months.
  • Between 4 to 12 months can only drive between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m.
  • Must have no traffic convictions before moving onto the next phase.
  • Can apply for full license at age 18.

As car accident attorneys in Hialeah at Farah & Farah, we have seen first-hand the devastation that motor vehicle collisions cause. It is our hope that more and more teens take driving seriously and that their parents emphasize the importance of driving safely.

Source: http://www.nih.gov/news/health/nov2011/nichd-04.htm; http://www.flhsmv.gov/ddl/teendriv.html