Hartford, Connecticut June 05, 2012 - A new “calculator” providing computations of the impact states can have on the collision and traffic-related death rates of teenagers through graduated driver licensing (GDL) provisions shows that every state in the U.S. has room to improve the safety of its youngest drivers, according to Online Auto Insurance.
Parents seeking answers to auto insurance coverage questions about their teenager will find that younger drivers are typically charged more for coverage. Insurers usually want higher premiums from teenagers because, according to federal research, they are involved in three times as many fatal collisions as all other age groups and die in traffic crashes more than from any other kinds of incidents. Such research led states to begin adopting GDL provisions in the mid-1990s to gradually introduce new drivers to the road through permit stages and restrictions on driving privileges.
Because each state enforces GDL provisions at different levels, the calculator from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) assesses a state based on five GDL components—permit age, practice driving hours, license age, and night driving and teen passenger restrictions—and tabulates the impact that state could have on rates of collision claims and fatal crashes by loosening or strengthening any of those five indicators.
States see the biggest benefits in limiting when teenagers can drive and how many young passengers they can carry. Raising the minimum age to obtain licensing and permits showed smaller impact on collision claim and fatality rates, according to the Institute.
"States don't have to adopt the toughest laws in the nation to realize safety gains,” Anne McCartt, senior vice president for research, said in a statement. “Strengthening one or two components pays off.”
The biggest reductions in collision claim and fatality rates for teens could be achieved through GDL laws that enforce a minimum permit age of 16, a minimum intermediate license age of 17, at least 65 hours of supervised driving, prohibit nighttime driving starting at 8 p.m. for intermediate drivers and ban all teen passengers, according to the Institute.
The Institutes highlighted several states they said were aligned with their best GDL practices, including Connecticut, which enforces a minimum permit age of 16 and prohibits teenage passengers for intermediate motorists. Adopting the other recommended GDL provisions would cut into collision claim and fatality rates by 13 percent and 17 percent, respectively, according to the calculator.
"Even the best states can do better," McCartt said. "There's room for improvement across the board."
South Dakota, however, has a ways to go in strengthening its GDL laws, according to the calculator. The Mount Rushmore State allows 14-year-olds to get their learner’s permit, a state law that McCartt called “too risky.”
The calculator found that raising the minimum age in South Dakota shows varying impact at different ages: raising the minimum age to 17 years old would realize an estimated 32 percent reduction in fatality rates, while raising it to 15.5-years-old would reduce that same rate by 16 percent.
If South Dakota adopted all of the Institutes’ recommended GDL provisions, the state would see reductions of 63 percent to teen vehicle fatality rates and 37 percent to teen-related collision claims, according to the calculator.
For more on this and insurance-related insurance issues, head to http://www.onlineautoinsurance.com/learn/ for access to an easy-to-use quote-comparison generator and informative resource pages.