Two new measures are making their way through the California legislature to help prevent car accidents and injuries among teen drivers. Teens are among the most likely demographic to be involved in a car accident that causes injuries or death, and graduated licensing programs are widely acknowledged as an effective way to reduce the risk of an accident.
Recent studies have shown that age is not the only factor that increases the risk for teen drivers, but that inexperience behind the wheel is also a contributor.
California already has some restrictions on drivers who are under the age of 18, including a requirement for 50 hours of supervised driving practice and a restriction on driving with other teens. The current system is designed for teens who start driving at 16 and has progressive steps towards an unrestricted license.
The first bill that has been approved by the Assembly Transportation Committee extend restrictions to drivers who are licensed for the first time at age 18 or 19. The rules will not be quite as though, for example, requiring only 30 hours of driver training classes and six hours of behind-the-wheel training.
The second bill mainly addresses nighttime driving and the risks of having passengers in the car with inexperienced drivers. Studies have known that having friends or other teens in the car can create significant distractions that contribute to car accidents.
Provisional licensing programs have been widely credited with lowering the rate of car accidents among teenage drivers, and these new laws reflect the fact that it is not only age, but general inexperience that contributes to accidents.
Source: Sacramento Bee, “California bills would add restrictions on teen drivers,” Melody Gutierrez, April 23, 2013.