Because they're young and inexperienced, teenagers often get into accidents when on the road, many of them serious enough to require an auto insurance claim. And while a number of safety strategies have been employed in order to lower the number of crashes that take place – such as graduated driver licensing laws and curfews – many parents would go further than what measures are currently in place, according to the results of a new survey.
Nearly two-thirds of parents would support extending teen driving laws to cover all new drivers under the age of 21, based on a recent poll commissioned by the National Safety Council.
Many parents believe peer pressure teens experience from their friends to engage in irresponsible driving behavior is their greatest safety risk. More than 55 percent of parents don't allow their teens to drive with friends, the NSC survey revealed, and the same percentage don't permit them to drive later than 10 p.m.
Deborah Hersman, NSC president and CEO, indicated that parents need to be mindful of their young motorists in the early days of their getting licensed to drive.
"The most dangerous period for a new driver is during the first year or first thousand miles," said Hersman. "But only 54 percent of teens get their license before their 18th birthday. The risk factors remain the same whether you are 16 or 19, so we are thrilled to see parents support extending the most effective interventions to our most inexperienced drivers."
Most allow teens to ride with younger siblings
Interestingly, while a high rate of parents forbid their kids from driving with people that are of similar age, most allow them to drive with their younger siblings, with 60 percent saying that this is something they allow, the NSC poll discovered. Younger brothers or sisters have also been found to increase the risk of a collision among inexperienced motorists. A recent study from Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health found traveling with young passengers raises a teen driver's crash potential by 44 percent.
During the 1990s, many states around the country began to implement GDL laws. These have served as a way to slowly integrate newly licensed drivers into the traffic population by allowing them to have a progressive number of privileges over time, starting with the learner stage. For example, as noted by the Governors Highway Safety Association, teens in the learner stage have to be supervised by a licensed driver whenever they get behind the wheel and must complete a test before they can advance to the intermediate stage. While individuals in this stage gain more privileges, they're restricted from being able to drive during certain evening hours and can only have so many passengers in the car at once. For example, in Texas, teens can have no more than one passenger who's under the age of 21.
The third and final stage is full-privilege, which can only be reached once teens turn a particular age. In Texas and Maryland, teenagers have to be at least 18, GHSA's compilation of GDL laws show, while in others, teens may only have to be 16 or 17 years old to get this status.