Bad News For Fast Teens

July 4, 2006

But good news for paranoid moms (like myself): A study released by the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore has found that the states boasting the most driving restrictions on teenagers also claim the lowest fatalities for 16-year-old drivers. The research provides states with “extremely valuable new information” in their drive to lower teen fatalities on the road, Nicole Nason, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told the Associated Press on Monday.

As I have written before, I am haunted by the driving fatalities in my high school and near-death experience of my own sister when she was 16 to want driving privileges banned for kids under 18. It makes sense to me that a little more maturity and driving experience behind the wheel could circumvent at least some of these senseless deaths. And while Ari’s 16-year-old self will hate me for this, I am relieved that such findings like John Hopkins’ are being released to the public now:

The study based its analysis on programs with these requirements:

 . a minimum age of 15 1/2 for earning a learner’s permit.
 . a waiting period of at least three months after getting a learner’s permit before applying for an intermediate license.
 . a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving.
 . a minimum age of 16 for obtaining an intermediate state license.
 . a minimum age of 17 for full licensing.
 . driving restrictions at night.
 . a restriction on carrying passengers.

The study found that such programs reduced fatal crashes for 16-year-old drivers by an average of 11 percent.

When the researchers compared states with five program components to states without a program, they found an 18 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers.

Programs with six or seven components were linked to a 21 percent reduction, showing the added benefit.

Markos and I have always owned only one car and lived in a city with reliable public transportation. We now live only a half a block from BART, or our subway system. I am hoping this will be enough to quell Ari’s appetite for the car keys. I know, wishful thinking. I’ve got my fingers crossed for that teenage ban though…