Can Curfews Protect Teen Drivers from Car Accidents?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), young drivers are the most likely to get into fatal accidents. Teenagers do not have enough driving experience, so they are more prone to making injurious decisions while on the road. During the night, when visibility gets low, issues novice drivers face can come with potentially dangerous results. Some have found a solution that works to protect new drivers: a curfew.
New Driver Licensing in Georgia
In Georgia, a system is in place for young drivers to stay safe on the roads, called a “Graduated Driver Licensing” or GDL system. This system uses a series of tiers to legally classify what a novice driver can and cannot do. The lowest level, learner stage, drivers must drive under the supervision of someone over 21. Drivers who move from the learner stage enter the intermediate step and are issued a class D license. To qualify for a class D license, you must be between16 and 18 and have had a learner stage permit for at least a year. Those with a class D license will earn a full Class C license if they have had no major traffic convictions in the past 12 months.
The area new drivers will spend the most time learning in is their class D license. The class D license comes with an in-built curfew, where these drivers cannot operate a vehicle between midnight and six in the morning. The GDL system works to keep teenage drivers safe from dangers they might encounter during curfew hours, and as will be shown, it is effective in what it sets out to do.
Curfews Can Help Stop Teenage Drivers From Making Mistakes
Teenagers are more impulsive than children and adults, according to one study that looked at impulse control among people in a wide age range. Male teenagers tend to be more impulsive than female teenagers, but on the whole, both were 15% more rash than their fellow participants in different age categories. With issues in impulse control comes problems in driving and reactions to other drivers, as well as in other dangerous behaviors, such as criminal acts.
According to a study from the University of Texas, teen driving curfews don’t just reduce car accidents; they can also mitigate teen crime overall. This study found arrests of teenagers aged 16 and 17 dropped by 8% in states that used a GDL system with a curfew. The longer the curfew restricted driving, the lower the arrest rate went. The longer the curfew for new drivers is, the less trouble they get in, whether that be trouble with other drivers in the form of accidents or problems with the police.
Late Night Dangers
Driving at night can be dangerous for both experienced and novice drivers. The lack of visibility presents challenges for drivers who will have less time to react to changes on the road. Someone in a dark suit heading back from work crossing the street may be evident during the daytime, but at night, that person becomes harder to see. As well as visibility, other factors play into the dangers of night driving. Other drivers are more tired at night and could drive while fatigued. Night driving means other drivers could have limited reaction time or even be asleep at the wheel. A curfew for class D licenses means that teen drivers will have limited exposure to these dangers, giving them a safer driving experience and ensuring that they are not becoming dangerous to those on the road.
Teens and Night Driving Statistics
Teenagers are one of the most prone groups to accidents, and different factors make teen driving uniquely dangerous. According to the CDC, teenagers are three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than drivers over 20. At night, the problem becomes more serious. Teenagers are more likely than any other drivers to be involved in fatal nighttime crashes. In 2019, 40% of all deadly crashes involving teenagers happened at night, in the period between 9 pm and 6 am. Other factors can play a role in teen vehicle deaths, such as seatbelt use, where teens regularly are shown to be the group that uses seatbelts the least. In 2019, almost 50% of fatal accidents involving teenage drivers were not wearing seatbelts at the time of their crashes. Curfews attempt to help teenagers by keeping them out of dangerous situations where studies show them to have worse decision-making skills than their fellow adult drivers.
How to Keep Teens Safe On The Road
One of the most important ways to keep teenage and novice drivers safe is to reiterate the importance of paying attention to the road. Having them silence their cell phones or not have distracting conversations with other passengers is an excellent step to ensure they give their full attention to the road. Teaching novice drivers the importance of seatbelt safety is also of paramount importance. Ensuring teenagers follow safety instructions such as texting-and-driving and seatbelt laws can significantly reduce road accidents and deaths.
Injured in a Car Crash? We are Here to Help.
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