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article imageShould teen drivers be allowed to drive at night?

By Tim Sandle     Aug 2, 2016 in Health
Washington - Newly qualified teenage drivers are often regarded as a risk (to themselves and other road users.) Some U.S. states have restrictions on teen drivers. A new report calls on these restrictions to be extended.
The report has come from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and it has looked at accident statistics relating to vehicle usage in the U.S. The focus of the data review is on teen drivers.
The CDC analysis indicates that for newly qualified drivers aged between 16 and 17 years old, where fatal crashes occurred, 31 percent of these happened at night (defined by the time range 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.) This is based on data collated between 2009 and 2014.
Most states already have policies in place, although there is considerable variation with these. The policies fall under the umbrella term ‘Graduated Driver Licensing’ and they refer to restrictions on when during the day newly qualified drivers, of a certain age, can drive. The aim is to establish various driving restrictions and to reduce exposure to situations of higher risk. Risk scenarios include driving at night, with passengers or after drinking alcohol.
Variations center on when the restriction starts (as well as how long a restriction applies for and in relation to different ages of driver, such as ending at 19 years or extending to 21 years old.) 23 states have restrictions that begin at midnight, whereas other states have much earlier start times for the restrictions to kick in. (@medlineplus) "Removing teen drivers from the road before midnight would reduce their risk of fatal crashes."
The outcome of the review, the CDC notes, is that new strategies are needed to control teen drivers and to reduce the incidence rate of fatal crashes. Given that the majority of serious accidents happen once the sun goes down, new policies need to be developed with night time driving in mind.
Specifically the CDC thinks that earlier night-time hours should be set in relation to restrictions. This means that restrictions should occur at a set time throughout the year rather than being based on seasonality and a qualitative assessment of when darkness ascends.
The reason for the CDC’s caution is because the majority of all night-time fatalities took place before midnight (57 percent of incidences.) The CDC report is titled “Graduated Driver Licensing Night Driving Restrictions and Fatal Night Crashes — 40 States, 2009–2014.”
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