More than a decade has passed since California tightened its restrictions on younger drivers, limiting the number of hours they can spend behind the wheel and whom they can have with them in the vehicle. And now new figures have emerged that suggest the regulations may have had unintended consequences.
While deaths of younger drivers, those who are 16 or 17 years old, have diminished over this period, fatalities of 18 – 19 year old drivers, who don’t have to take training and are not subject to restrictions, have gone up. These restrictions coupled with mandatory training for drivers who get their licenses at 16 can be seen as an obstacle to safety, with some teens waiting until their 18th birthday to get their licenses, allowing them to circumvent the training programs and driving restrictions. Is there a need to ramp up restrictions on older drivers for their own good, and how old is too old for training and supervision when the safety is at stake?
Scott V. Masten, researcher with the California Department of Motor Vehicles; corresponding author of the report on teen drivers
Dr. Bharath Chakravarthy, MD, residency program director for Emergency Medicine in UC Irvine’s School of Medicine
Tom Milewski, lead instructor for Drivers Ed Direct, which has a program that focuses on teaching teen drivers