Characteristics of fatal crashes of 16-year-old drivers: implications for licensure policies

Williams, Allan F. / Preusser, David F. / Ulmer, Robert G. / Weinstein, Helen B.
Journal of Public Health Policy

Compared with older drivers, and even older teens, greater percentages of 16-year-old drivers in fatal crashes were involved in single-vehicle crashes, were responsible for their crashes, were cited for speeding, had high vehicle occupancy (especially other teenagers), and were female. Sixteen-year-olds were less likely than older drivers to have been drinking. In addition, their crashes occurred at different times than those of older drivers, crashes between 10:00 p.m. and 11:59 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays being especially likely. Information about the characteristics of the crashes of 16-year-olds is important because this is the age at which most states currently allow teenagers to get an unrestricted driver's license. It is also the age at which restrictions on beginning licenses are being considered in some states. The results of this study suggest that restrictions on teenage passengers, and night-driving curfews with pre-midnight starting times--two provisions used in New Zealand's graduated licensing system--would be appropriate in attempts to reduce crashes of beginning 16-year-old drivers, who have the highest fatal crash rate of any single teen age.

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