Creating additional restrictions on teen night driving could reduce fatalities nationwide, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found. In a new report, the CDC discovered that 31 percent of fatal crashes involving teens aged 16-17 years took place between the hours of 9:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m. While most states do restrict how late teen drivers can drive a car without adult supervision, the majority of those restrictions may not go far enough.
The recent report studied night driving restrictions (NDRs) in graduated driver licensing programs. NDRs refer to the time at night when a teen driver is no longer allowed to drive without an adult driver in the vehicle with them. It has been found that state-instituted NDRs can lower the incidence of crashes involving teens. However, the current NDRs in many states are not set early enough in the evening to address the majority of teens on the road and actually lower accident risk.
NDRs too late to help
According to the report, 23 states and the District of Columbia have NDRs that begin at 12:00 a.m. or later. However, 93 percent of night trips by teens ended prior to this time, researchers found. They compiled their data using FARS, a national census of fatal crashes that is maintained by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Both national and state FARS from 2009-2014 were used for the purpose of this particular study.
The researchers discovered that 57 percent of all night crashes involving teens in this age group took place before 12:00 a.m. They also learned that around three-fifths of the fatal collisions occurring during the night hours took place between 9:00 p.m. and 12:00 a.m. However, only three states have set their NDRs to 9:00 p.m., with all other states setting their restrictions later.
“Restrictions that start at 12:00 a.m. or later aren’t really preventative,” Ruth Schultz, lead author of the report and a senior epidemiologist in the division of unintentional injury prevention at the CDC, told Newsmax. “[The restrictions] aren’t providing protection for the majority of teen drivers who are out at night.”
Night risks for teen drivers
There are many reasons why teen drivers are at increased risk for fatal crashes in the evening hours. Driving in the dark is one hazard, but this is also the time of day when teens may be more likely to engage in high-risk driving behaviors such as speeding and drunk driving. Teens are also more likely to carry a large number of other teens in their vehicle during this time.
Graduated licensing programs are designed to help teens gather experience on the road when the risks are lower, before allowing them to drive unsupervised during higher risk times. However, the current restrictions placed by most states are not addressing the appropriate low-risk times of day, which may expose teen drivers to more dangers than necessary. By moving up NDRs to 10:00 p.m. or earlier, authors of the CDC report believe that even more fatal accidents involving teen drivers could be prevented.
The personal injury law firm of Eisbrouch Marsh supports laws that could decrease the number of fatal accidents on the roadways today. However, if you have already been injured or lost a loved one in a crash, an attorney can help secure compensation for damages including medical bills, property damage, lost income, pain and suffering.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Graduated Driver Licensing Night Driving Restrictions and Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Night Crashes – United States, 2009-2014, http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6529a1.htm
- Newsmax, Limiting Teens’ Night Driving would Save Lives: CDC, http://www.newsmax.com/Health/Health-News/teen-driving-night-cdc/2016/07/28/id/741122/
- American Academy for Pediatrics, CDC: 31% of Fatal Crashes Involving Teen Drivers Take Place at Night, http://www.aappublications.org/news/2016/07/28/NightDriving072816
- Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association, Teen Driving Statistics, http://www.rmiia.org/auto/teens/Teen_Driving_Statistics.asp
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Teen Drivers: Get the Facts, http://www.cdc.gov/motorvehiclesafety/teen_drivers/teendrivers_factsheet.html