“For more than a decade, California and other states have kept their newest teen drivers on a tight leash, restricting the hours when they can get behind the wheel and whom they can bring along as passengers. Public officials were confident that their get-tough policies were saving lives.
Now, though, a nationwide analysis of crash data suggests that the restrictions may have backfired: While the number of fatal crashes among 16- and 17-year-old drivers has fallen, deadly accidents among 18-to-19-year-olds have risen by an almost equal amount. In effect, experts say, the programs that dole out driving privileges in stages, however well-intentioned, have merely shifted the ranks of inexperienced drivers from younger to older teens.”
Basically, since the program started in 1996, there were 1,348 fewer fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers, which looks great on the surface. But, there were 1,086 more fatal crashes involving 18-year-old drivers, which could be because young drivers are waiting until they are 18 to bypass restrictions.
This could support that inexperience is a greater factor in young driver accidents as opposed to immaturity–if there were more unrestricted novices on the road at 18.
It’s seems unlikely that this would be the case in New Zealand, because the only exception to our graduated licence system based on age is reducing the time you have to stay on your restricted licence, if you’re over 25, before being able to apply for your full licence.
At 16 and 18 there are differences of who is involved with the driver, which is more relevant to New Zealand. Is a 16-year-old’s parents while they are living with them more likely to be involved with their driving, compared to an 18-year-old who is likely not at home and away from parents?
Bonus points for spotting the similarities with consuming alcohol responsibly.
Maybe the real question is why is driving our own cars such a non-negotiable?
“If reducing car injuries and fatalities is the purpose, this can also be achieved – and for all ages – by providing and promoting ubiquitous, affordable and on-time public transport systems. A nice plus would be the benefits to the environment, a decreased [dependence] on oil and a firm middle finger to Big Oil’s influence on politics and society as a whole.”
Image credit: Rob Ellis