Statement on National Teen Driver Safety Week

    • October 18, 2018
    150 150 Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

    October 17, 2018

    Contact: Eric Naing 202-408-1711, cell: 217-493-8294, enaing@saferoads.org

     

    Statement of Cathy Chase,

    President of Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety,

    On National Teen Driver Safety Week

     

    Motor Vehicle Crashes Remain the Number One Killer of American Teens –

    Yet All States Are Missing Vital, Lifesaving Teen Driving Laws

     

    This National Teen Driver Safety Week (Oct. 21-27, 2018), Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) calls on state elected officials to take immediate action to address tragic yet preventable motor vehicle crashes happening on our roads.  While every state has at least one component of a teen graduated driver licensing (GDL) program, no state has all six elements, as rated by Advocates’ 2018 Roadmap of State Highway Safety Laws.  Today, Advocates sent the Roadmap report and a letter to all 50 governors and the mayor of DC urging them to eradicate the dangerous gaps in their GDL laws.

    GDL laws introduce teens to the driving experience gradually by phasing in full driving privileges over time and in lower risk settings.  And, they are proven life-savers.  States that have adopted GDL programs have experienced 10-30 percent decreases in overall crash reductions among teen drivers, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

    For many teens, learning to drive is an important rite of passage but too many lives are sacrificed – 4,853 people in 2016 alone – in motor vehicle crashes involving a young driver (ages 15 to 20), according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  Additionally, a recent trend is teens waiting longer to get their licenses, resulting in them aging out of GDL programs and missing the important benefits they provide.  Data from the Monitoring the Future survey, a continuing study of American youth, shows the number of high school seniors who drive dropped from 85.3 percent in 1996 to 71.5 in 2015, a record low for the age group.  To ensure these older novice drivers receive proper training and experience, states should extend their GDL programs to include ages 18-20.

    As the Roadmap reveals, every state and DC lacks at least one crucial aspect of an optimal GDL program including:

    • 42 states missing a minimum an age 16 for learner’s permit provision (AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, LA, ME, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY)
    • 4 states missing a minimum six-month holding period provision (CT, NH, SD, WY)
    • 24 states and DC missing a 50 hours of supervised driving provision (AL, AK, AZ, AR, CT, DC, GA, IA, MA, MN, MS, MO, NE, NH, NJ, ND, OR, SC, SD, TX, UT, VT, VA, WV, WI)
    • 39 states and DC missing an optimal nighttime driving restriction provision (AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, CO, CT, DC, FL, GA, HI, IL, IN, IA, KY, LA, ME, MD, MA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NJ, NM, OH, OR, PA, RI, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WI, WY)
    • 32 states missing an optimal passenger restriction provision (AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IA, KS, KY, LA, MD, MA, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, ND, OR, PA, SC, SD, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WY)
    • 48 states and DC missing a minimum age 18 for unrestricted license provision (AL, AK, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, DC, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, KS, KY, LA, ME, MA, MD, MI, MN, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NH, NM, NY, NC, ND, OH, OK, OR, PA, RI, SC, SD, TN, TX, UT, VT, VA, WA, WV, WI, WY)
    • 20 states and DC missing an optimal GDL cell phone restriction provision (AL, AK, AZ, AR, CA, DC, FL, ID, MS, MO, MT, NE, NV, NY, OK, PA, SC, SD, VA, WY)

    Advocates urges lawmakers to use the Roadmap as a guide for legislative steps they can take to advance safety, including additional ways to protect teens such as primary enforcement all-passenger safety belt laws and comprehensive distracted driving laws.  While GDL cell phone bans help prevent novice driver distraction, upgrading distracted driving laws for all drivers helps protect teens from other distracted drivers.  Considering that traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the U.S., this National Teen Driver Safety Week these safety laws should be advanced with urgency as lives are literally in the balance.

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