North Country
4:47 pm
Tue June 5, 2012

Study: Tougher Teen Licensing In NH Could Have Saved Lives

Thirty-five teens died in car crashes in New Hampshire from 2006 through 2010.  A new study estimates 14 of them would not have died because they wouldn't have been in crashes if the state had made it harder for teens to get driver’s licenses.

That’s the conclusion of a new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, a research group funded by the insurance industry.

The institute looked at death rates nationwide. Then, it looked at how hard it is for a teen to get a license in each state.

The analysis covered 1996 – 2007.

In particular the institute looked at what are called graduated driver’s licenses.

Decades ago teens turned sixteen and got a license allowing them to do everything someone who had been driving for 30 years could do.

But starting in 1996 states began adopting graduated licenses that put limits on what a teen could do.

The idea is helping teens gain more experience while minimizing the hazards of additional challenges. Those range from night driving to the distraction of a bunch of teenage passengers.

New Hampshire’s Youth Operator licensing requirements are about average, says Anne McCartt, the institute’s senior vice president for research.

But if the New Hampshire requirements were tightened to match the best in the country it could result in a 41 percent reduction in teen deaths, she told NHPR.

Here’s what McCartt says it would take:

1) Increasing the learners-permit age to 16 instead of the 15 and one-half years.

2) Requiring 65 hours of practice time instead of the current 40.

3) Not allowing an unrestricted license until 17.  It is currently 16.

4) Restricting night driving after 8 p.m.  Currently the restriction is only between 1 a.m. and 4 am.

5) Not allowing any teen passengers. New Hampshire currently allows one passenger under 25 years who is not a member of the driver’s family “unless accompanied by a licensed, responsible adult who is at least 25 years of age.”

McCartt said while states may not want to increase the restrictions on new drivers there is another option.

“Parents can obviously go beyond what a state requires and set stronger restrictions in place for their teen,” she said.

For a review of state-by-state requirements go here.

http://www.iihs.org/news/rss/pr053112.html