A new report from a national highway safety group examines the impact of state driver's licensing age laws on teen motor vehicle crashes, and calls on states to consider raising driver's licensing ages in order to reduce traffic accidents and save lives.
Licensing Age and Teenage Driver Crashes: A Review of the Evidence, from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), focuses on "the costs in terms of lives of allowing licensure sooner rather than later," and finds that "licensing at later ages would substantially reduce crashes involving teen drivers," according to an IIHS News Release. IIHS points out statistics showing that New Jersey -- the only state in which drivers must wait until age 17 to become licensed -- has a much lower fatal crash rate for young drivers when compared with neighboring Connecticut, where the licensing age is 16.
According to the IIHS, lawmakers in Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, and Massachusetts have recently proposed legislation to raise the driving age -- but those measures were unsuccessful. A number of states allow teens to become licensed drivers before the age of 16, with certain restrictions -- including Idaho, Mississippi, and South Carolina. (See today's IIHS News Release for a look at driver's licensing ages in all states and a number of countries.). The Chicago Tribune reports that IIHS research shows states making progress in reducing the number of teen car crashes through the use of graduated driver licensing laws, which "ease restrictions on teen drivers as they gain experience and keep a clean driving record."