Graduated licenses for teens work, but with unexpected dangers


Graduated drivers licenses have done much to help reduce fatality among very young drivers, but some teens are finding a way to get over on the system that’s ending badly.

With a graduated license program, teen driving privileges begin steadily expanding as young motorists gain more road experience. At first, there are typically restrictions on when teens can drive and who can be in the car. Depending on your state, you may have to be 18 before the restrictions are fully loosened.

Thanks to graduated license programs in many states, the fatality rate among young drivers has declined by 26% around the country. But here’s the rub: A lot of kids are opting to wait until they can get unrestricted licenses — with no driver ed requirements and no other restrictions — at 18.

As a result of this new trend, the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that fatalities are up among drivers who are 18 years old and up. Think about it: 18 year olds are still getting on the road for the first time with no road experience, just like the 15 and 16 year olds, and getting into accidents.

I’m disappointed that it seems like we’re just moving the problem two years later.

I think the situation calls for a more European approach. In Europe, new drivers are required to display a scarlet letter on their vehicles. It’s a huge red-and-white “L” that helps alert other drivers about the potential danger they pose on the road. European drivers know to be extra vigilant when they’re around these cars, or to avoid them if possible.

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