Fatal car crashes among the nation’s youngest, most accident-prone drivers dropped sharply in the decade after most states enacted laws limiting their access to a driver’s license, says a new study reported by the Washington Post. Auto deaths involving 16-year-old drivers fell 26 percent between 1993 and 2003, a period when 46 states and Washington, D.C., enacted graduated licensing laws that allow fewer 16-year-olds to drive, says the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Among 16-year-olds with full driving privileges, the rate of fatal crashes has not fallen, and it remains higher than that of any age group. Researchers said the difference between the two groups points to the effect of the new laws, which keep most 16-year-olds from receiving unrestricted licenses. “The fewer of them who drive, the fewer of them who die,” said the institute’s Susan Ferguson. Lawmakers may further restrict teenage drivers. In Maryland, the state Senate gave tentative approval yesterday to a bill that would prohibit new drivers from carrying passengers younger than 18 during the first six months of an 18-month provisional license. In Virginia, the Senate and House have approved measures that would restrict cell phone use by teenage drivers.