Graduated Driver Licensing Could Save 2,000 Lives, $13.6 Billion: Study

December 9, 2011

If all states implemented comprehensive graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, an estimated 2,000 lives could be saved. Further, if all 50 states were to enact comprehensive GDL laws, it could generate savings of $13.6 billion per year.

That’s according to the Allstate Foundation License to Save Report, developed in conjunction with the National Safety Council. The report found that over the last 20 years, graduated driver licensing laws have already saved an estimated 15,000 lives.

The report findings are timely, as Congress readies to consider reauthorization of highway and infrastructure spending – legislation that historically has included public health and safety measures.

Novice teenage drivers are the most likely drivers on the road to have car accidents. In fact, 16-year-old drivers have crash rates two times greater than 18-to-19-year-old drivers and four times that of older drivers, according to the report.

GDL helps new drivers gain experience under supervised and less risky conditions. The most comprehensive GDL laws include nighttime driving restrictions, passenger limits, cell phone and texting bans, mandatory behind-the-wheel driving time, minimum entry age for learner’s permit (16), and age 18 before full licensure. In some states that have enacted strong GDL laws, the incidence of teenage driving related deaths have dropped by as much as 40 percent.

“Teen driving deaths are a real public health crisis,” said Vicky Dinges, vice president of public social responsibility, Allstate. “What’s worse is that these deaths are avoidable.”

More than 81,000 people were killed in crashes involving drivers ages 15 to 20 in the decade from 2000 to 2009, making teen driving crashes the leading cause of teen deaths nationwide.

In addition to the lives lost, the report estimates that the total cost to the nation of crashes involving teen drivers in 2009 at $38.3 billion. These costs include wage and productivity losses, medical expenses, administrative expenses for public and private insurance, police and legal costs, motor vehicle damage, employers’ uninsured costs and fire losses. These costs were paid by employers, state and local governments and by citizens through taxes, fees and insurance premiums.

“Our elected officials do not have many opportunities during their careers to take action that will save thousands of lives and billions of dollars in one legislative action. This is one of those times,” said Janet Froetscher, president and CEO of the National Safety Council.

The report estimates of lives saved were generated using a 2007 study which analyzed the effect of graduated driver licensing programs to produce percentage reduction estimates compared to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s estimate of the number of young driver-related fatalities in each state.

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