|Study: waiting for license could end badly|
|Written by Douglas Bridges-O’Connor, Daily Vidette Senior Staff|
|Monday, 26 September 2011 20:29|
After heightened driver’s license laws, fewer fatal vehicle accidents among 16-year-olds have occurred – but a recent national study finds an increase in fatal accidents among 18-year-olds.
The study, conducted by Researcher Scott Masten with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, examined accidents resulting in fatalities from 1986 to 2007 and focused on drivers ranging from 16 to 19 years of age.
The new study indicates teens are skirting state requirements by waiting to get their driver’s license until 18. As a result, the study suggests, teen drivers are driving with less experience and increasing the likelihood of fatal accidents.
“I was actually bummed by my own findings – to find out we’re offsetting the benefits [for young drivers]. It was quite unexpected,” Masten stated to The Associated Press.
“Obviously, if you wait until you’re 18 years old, then all you have to do is submit the application for your license. None of that other stuff applies. Whether or not that has an effect on the fatality rate for accidents, there are also a lot of other restrictions that go with the graduated driver licensing besides 50 hours behind the wheel time.
“There are some other factors that could figure in besides the fact that they haven’t had much time behind the wheel, but common sense would tell you the more time you spend behind the wheel, the more comfortable you’re going to get,” Normal Chief of Police Rick Bleichner said.
Earlier studies also found that graduated licensing programs are linked to declines in the number of vehicle fatalities. However, data involving the effects on older teens are ambiguous.
“Several years back, Secretary [of State Jesse] White initiated an overhaul of Illinois’ graduated driver licensing program and we are now recognized nationally as having one of the most comprehensive programs,” Henry Haupt, deputy press secretary with the Illinois Secretary of State office, said.
“We’re aware of this study and Secretary White has always said, ‘even the greatest program or product can be improved upon.’ We’re always looking for ways to make our program better and to save more lives.
“[We’re] also committed to establishing a safe driver advisory council sometime either this fall or early winter and one of the items we would like to study is a form of mandatory training that would be required for first-time driver’s license applicants who come in at age 18 or older and have not had any driver’s education training,” Haupt added.
According to Haupt, the Illinois Secretary of State office has already taken initiatives to encourage teens to participate in graduated driver’s licensing programs.
“We’ve worked closely with the High School and College Driver Education Association and the Parent Teacher Association to put together the Parent-Teen Driving Guide. It’s a step-by-step, 32-page tutorial booklet which helps the parent chart their teen’s progress and we make sure every teen driver receives one to bring home,” Haupt said.
For more information, visit cyberdriveillinois.com.