In the past five years, 162 Iowa teen drivers, ages 14-17, have lost their lives in crashes (CDC, 2009). To reduce these tragic losses, we must support young drivers as they learn, and give them appropriate guidance in preparation for the complexities of driving. By maximizing experience and minimizing risks while this experience is gained, we protect teens while they are learning and produce safer drivers in the long-run.
Research has shown that teen driver crashes can be reduced by improving the structure of driver licensing systems. Graduated Driver Licensing, or GDL, is an approach that allows young drivers to gain experience while minimizing risks to themselves and others with whom they share the road.
Several recent studies report that the most comprehensive GDL programs, including appropriate nighttime and passenger limitations, reduce young driver crashes by 20% to 40% (Journal of Safety Research, 2007).
Maximize Experience. Minimize Risks. For All New Young Drivers
Parents of teen drivers strongly support the licensing requirements of a comprehensive GDL system. A 2009 survey of 1,065 Iowa parents who have a 16 or 17-year-old driver demonstrated overwhelming support for the proposed changes to Iowa's driver licensing program listed below. Of the parents surveyed, 55% supported the one year instruction permit, 79% supported the passenger limitation and 82% supported the night time limitation. Virtually no difference was found between parents living in rural areas and parents living in urban areas.
Inexperience not only puts young drivers at risk, it also puts their passengers and others on the road at risk.
- 62% of people killed in teen driver crashes are someone other than the teendriver.
Blank Children's Hospital in collaboration with many other organizations will be working during the 2011 legislative session to make important improvements to Iowa's GDL system. Please join our efforts!