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Graduated driver's license laws produce mixed results when it comes to car accidents

Every state including Louisiana has graduated driver's license laws. Though every state's graduated driver's license laws are different, the overall point of the laws is to reduce the number of car accidents among teenagers by requiring greater experience before an unrestrained license is given. The results of a recent study that measured the effectiveness of the laws around the country shows that graduated driver's license laws produce mixed results when it comes to preventing car accidents.

Prior studies have shown a link between graduated license programs and fewer fatal car accidents among teenagers, but the results of the recent study show the laws' effect when broken down among teenage age groups is mixed.

The study found that graduated driver's license laws led to fewer fatal crashes among 16-year-old drivers, but the same laws were associated with more fatal accidents among 18-year-olds. The study compared states with the most restrictions to states with the least restrictions and found there were 26 percent fewer fatal crashes involving 16-year-olds in areas with stronger laws. However, there were 12 percent more fatal crashes among 18-year-old drivers. There were not any differences among 17 and 19-year-old drivers.

Graduated driver's license laws generally apply to teens under the age of 18. The results of the study suggest that some teens are putting off getting their license until they turn 18 and as a result have not gained much experience driving. The lack of experience likely contributes to the higher number of car accidents among 18-year-old drivers.

Source: The Associated Press, "Curbs on youngest drivers may have bad side effect," Lindsey Tanner, Sept. 14, 2011

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