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Age of licensure and monitoring teenagers' driving: survey of parents of novice teenage drivers

McCartt, Anne T.; Hellinga, Laurie A.; Haire, Emily R.
Journal of Safety Research

Objective: To assess parental decision making regarding the timing of teenagers initiating driving and monitoring teenagers' driving after licensure.
Methods: About 300 parents were interviewed during spring 2006 in Minnesota, North Carolina, and Rhode Island, states with varying licensing provisions, while teenagers took their first on-road driving tests.
Results: States' differences in ages of obtaining learner's permits and licenses reflected different licensing laws, but most teenagers obtained permits and took road tests within the first few months after they became eligible. Common reasons for delaying obtaining permits were fulfilling driver education requirements and lack of readiness/immaturity. Insufficient practice driving most often delayed licensure. Among the parents interviewed, 33-49% believed the minimum licensure age should be 17 or older. Almost all parents planned to supervise teenagers' driving after licensure, and most wanted to know about speeding or distractions. When asked about in-vehicle devices to monitor teenagers' driving, 37-59% of parents had heard of them. Parents were least interested in using video cameras and about equally interested in computer chips and cell-phone-based GPS systems. Disinterest in monitoring devices most often was attributed to trusting teenagers or respecting their privacy.
Conclusions: Licensing laws influence ages of initiating driving. Although many parents support licensing at 17 or older - higher than in all but one state - most teenagers initiate driving soon after reaching the minimum age. Parents plan to supervise teenagers' driving, and many say they are open to using in-vehicle monitoring devices.
Impact on industry: Many parents support a minimum licensing age of 17 or older and would consider in-vehicle devices to extend their supervision of teenager's driving.