Vermont Reports Decline in Teen Driver Fatalities

March 9, 2005

The number of Vermont teenagers who died in traffic crashes has declined sharply to where the state has one of the lowest death rates in the country. Highway safety officials credit the new “graduated” licenses law as the reason.

The new law required additional supervised practice driving time during the day and the night for young drivers with permits. It also prohibited a young driver from having friends in the car for the first three months after obtaining a junior license.

Chuck Satterfield, a spokesman for the Governor’s Highway Safety Committee, said he believes the new graduated license law has been a key factor in reversing the death rate for young drivers.

“Probably the biggest incentive is if you get one three-point or higher violation or accumulate six points, your license is gone, it gets suspended for 90 days,” Satterfield said. “That has a definite impact on young drivers.”

Satterfield would like to add some new restrictions to the law. He says his organization is strongly backing a bill that would prohibit teen drivers under the age of 18 from driving between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.

“Model legislation shows that nighttime restriction is very effective, as well,” he said. “The highest crash rates for teen drivers in Vermont is right after school between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., but the highest violation rate is after 11 p.m. at night when kids are out cruising the streets and driving unsafely. So a nighttime restriction that limits when you can drive and who can be in the car is shown to be very effective.”

Satterfield said the legislation includes an exemption for young drivers who are traveling to or from work after 11 p.m. The proposal is being reviewed by the House Transportation committee.

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