Report: Strict Penalties for Violating GDL Laws Reduced Teen Crashes in Mass.

July 15, 2015

A new report shows that implementing strict penalties for violating graduated driver-licensing (GDL) laws — including restrictions on unsupervised night driving — significantly reduced teen driver crashes in Massachusetts.

The report, “Teen Crashes Declined After Massachusetts Raised Penalties For Graduated Licensing Law Restricting Night Driving,” was published in the July issue of Health Affairs, a journal of health policy thought and research.

The report stated that in 2007, Massachusetts put in place stringent penalties for violating a law prohibiting unsupervised driving at night. Additionally, driver education, which includes drowsy driving education, became mandatory, and other new restrictions and penalties were also implemented. The move was part of a graduated driver-licensing program designed to allow junior operators (ages 16½–17 years) to gain experience before getting full licensure.

The report examined police-reported crash records for one year before and five years after the implementation in drivers ages 16–17 and compared the data to other age groups. The study found that crash rates for the youngest drivers fell 18.6 percent, from 16.24 to 13.22 per 100 licensed drivers.

For drivers ages 18–19 the crash rates declined 6.7 percent, from 9.59 to 8.95 per 100 drivers. For those ages 20 and older, the rate remained relatively unchanged, according to the Health Affairs report.

Source: Health Affairs

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