Graduated Driver License Laws Could Curb Teen Deaths

By Jacob Brown | May 31, 2012
Getting your license at 16 years old, no conditions attached, is a thing of the past in most places. Now, the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety wants to bury that old rite of passage even further down the depths of history. The IIHS publishes an annual study ranking each state on how to make teen drivers' laws better, ranking states on their laws. The organization says graduated laws, where drivers gain privileges as they age and progress in driving skill, prevent teen accidents and fatalities. Among its list of criteria it uses to rate the best driving provisions by state are allowing drivers to obtain permits after the age of 16, mandating 65 hours of supervised practice, licensing at 17 years old, 8 p.m. nightly driving restrictions, and not allowing teen passengers. While no single state used all of the best practices recommended by the IIHS, 36 states were ranked "good," seven were rated "fair," and the remaining seven were "marginal" as of May 2011. None were ranked poor.
But the IIHS didn't seem too happy with Iowa and South Dakota's laws, both of which allow 14-year-olds to obtain permits. Drivers still have to be 16 to get licenses in Iowa, but it only takes three months after getting a permit to get your license in South Dakota. The IIHS says raising age restrictions to 15 and a half would reduce fatal crashes by 16 percent alone in those states. It should be noted, however, that those laws are the way they are because much of the landscape there still looks like it did 200 years ago. In summary, the organizations says most states have pretty good laws in place to keep teen drivers safe. But there's always room for improvement. Follow the links below to read the full report. Source: IIHS (1, 2)