NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Comprehensive graduated license laws for teens could minimize road deaths and save state governments $13.6 billion a year on crash-related expenditures, says a new report from the AllState Foundation.
Graduated license laws are designed to help new drivers gain experience under supervised and less risky conditions before getting an unrestricted license. Laws can include nighttime driving restrictions, passenger limits, cellphone and texting bans, mandatory behind-the-wheel driving time, minimum entry age for a learner's permit (16) and restricted licenses prior to age 18.
Most states have some type of graduated license law in place, though of varying degrees. New York, Delaware and Rhode Island have the most comprehensive programs in place, says John Ulczycki of the National Safety Council, while Mississippi, South Dakota and North Dakota have the least comprehensive laws in place.
The research, conducted for the insurer by the National Safety Council — which analyzed the data it compiles on car crash fatalities and the economic costs associated with them from 1991 (the first year a graduated license law was introduced) to the present — found that greater reductions in fatal crashes occur as states increase the number of components in their licensing laws. States with the most comprehensive graduated driver licensing programs reduced the number of fatal crashes involving young drivers by 38% during the investigated period.
More than 81,000 people were killed in crashes involving drivers age 15 to 20 from 2000 to 2009, making driving crashes the leading cause of teen death nationwide.
In addition to saving lives, researchers concluded that the expected reduction in crashes from tighter licensing laws could save $13.6 billion of the estimated $38.3 billion the nation lost to crashes involving teen drivers in 2009 if each state implemented the most comprehensive graduated license laws.
Those costs come from wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses for public and private insurance, police and legal costs, motor vehicle damage, employers' uninsured costs and fire losses.
While licensing is a step in the right direction, newer drivers should make sure their vehicles are safe enough. Check out MainStreet’s look at the best cars for new drivers to see which ones fit the bill!