California's Teen Driving Law Reduced Crashes by 68 Percent

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Thursday, August 22, 2013

California's Teen Driving Law Reduced Crashes by 68 Percent

An analysis of California’s teen-age graduated driver licensing law (GDL) implemented 15 years ago shows that it has been effective in reducing fatal and injury collisions for novice drivers.  The number of at-fault fatal and injury crashes for 16-year-old teen drivers declined by 68 percent, according to the Automobile Club of Southern California. Among 17-year-olds, the drop was 51 percent.

The GDL law, passed in 1997 and implemented in 1998, eases novice teen drivers into the driving experience, and reduces their exposure to the most dangerous risks by imposing restrictions that prohibited young passengers and limit nighttime driving.

“While an early Auto Club analysis of the law in 2001 showed California’s law to be effective, GDL has now been around for 15 years,” said the Automobile Club of Southern California’s Senior Traffic Safety Researcher Steven A. Bloch, Ph.D. “The current analysis – more than 10 years later – shows that the law continues to be effective in saving lives.”

“Parental involvement, more time behind the wheel, removing young passengers from the vehicle and limiting late night driving have all helped reduce teen driver crashes and are all part of GDL,” said Bloch.  “We need parents and teens to continue to understand and follow the law to further reduce crashes.”

Delaying licenses until teens become older did not appear to have an effect on their crash rates.

Source: AAA California