Williams, Allan F.
Traffic Injury Prevention (TIP)
To discuss the variation in licensing ages around the world and summarize what is known about the effects of differing age limits.Methods:
Review of the international literature on the rationale for establishing licensing ages, debates about the justification for higher or lower minimum ages, safety effects of higher minimums, mobility consequences, public opinion, and recent attempts to raise licensing ages.Results:
Minimum licensing ages vary from 14 to 18 years old. Early licensing countries have reduced the young driver problem through graduated licensing systems, but consideration is now being given to increasing the licensing age. The available evidence indicates that this would further reduce young driver crashes. There are mobility consequences that are difficult to quantify. In New Jersey, which has long been the one U.S. state with a 17-year-old licensing age, the delay in licensing appears to have minimal effects on lifestyles of 16-year-olds. Public opinion in the United States favors licensing ages higher than 16.Conclusions:
In debates about higher licensing ages, jurisdictions are deciding how they want to balance safety and mobility. From a safety standpoint, New Jersey, with its combination of higher licensing age and strong graduated licensing provisions, is the model.