Graduated Driver Licensing Reduces Youthful Drinking & Driving

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among persons aged 15 to 20 in the U.S. and occur at twice the rate of those over age 20. Two out of five deaths among teens in the United States result from motor vehicle crashes. The traffic accident risk for young drivers is greatest at night, and increases when teenage passengers are in the car.

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) reduces the high risks faced by new drivers by requiring them to get their initial driving experiences under low risk conditions. All 50 States use some form of Graduated Driver Licensing to reduce the crash risk of underage youths by providing a transition into the complexities of driving.

States vary in the extent to which they restrict driving behavior among young drivers. The more restrictive laws require new drivers be accompanied by an adult and place requirements on driving hours and/or the number of passengers allowed in a car while the young driver is behind the wheel.

Young drivers aged 15 to 17 in states with more restrictive driver-licensing laws had lower rates of driving under the influence of alcohol than those in States with less restrictive laws, according to data from the National Household surveys of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) collected in 1999, 200, and 2001.

In the most restrictive states, 8.2% of the 15-17 year old drivers reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year, while 11.5% of young drivers drove under the influence of alcohol in the least restrictive states.

The report, Graduated Driver Licensing and Drinking among Young drivers, is published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

References

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Traffic safety facts 2000: Young drivers. (DOT HS 809 336). Washington, DC: NHTSA, 2001.
  • National Survey on Drug Use and Health. The NSDUH Report, 4-30-04. Graduated Driver Licensing and Drinking among Young Drivers. Washington, DC: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2004. [The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) is an annual survey sponsored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Prior to 2002, this survey was known as the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (NHSDA). The 1999, 2000, and 2001 data are based on information obtained from more than 207,000 persons aged 12 or older (about 70,000 each year); 24,956 of whom were 15 to 17 year old drivers. The survey collects data by administering questionnaires to a representative sample of the population through face-to-face interviews at their place of residence.]
  • Yi, H. Y., Williams, G. D., & Dufour, M. C. Trends in alcohol-related fatal crashes, United States, 1979–99. (Surveillance Report No. 56). Bethesda, MD: National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse, 2001.
  • Zador, P. L., Krawchuk, S. A., & Voas, R. B. Alcohol-related relative risk of driver fatalities and driver involvement in fatal crashes in relation to driver age and gender: An update using 1996 data. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 61: 387–395.

Filed Under: Drinking and Driving