Study: New driver's education laws increasing fatalities at age 18

September 14, 2011 12:00 AM

A new study suggests that laws intended to curb the number of fatal accidents in teen drivers may not be having their intended effect.

Many states have enacted laws that require those younger than 18 to enroll in extensive driver's education programs before getting on the road, reports the Associated Press. This has, by-and-large, reduced the number of fatal accidents. However, these states still allow drivers over the age of 18 to get their license as long as they pass their test - they don't necessarily need to go to driver's ed or training to do so.

So while there is a 26 percent decrease in 16-year-old deaths in states that have these programs, there has been a 12 percent increase in fatal crashes for 18-year-olds. Essentially, the new laws just delay the problem two years.

"There's an incentive right now to skip out and just wait until you're 18," said Scott Masten, the study's lead author and a researcher with California's Department of Motor Vehicles. "In most states you don't even need to have driver education or driver training [at 18.] I was actually bummed by my own findings - to find out we're offsetting the benefits."

If your teen is just beginning to drive, it pays to have a talk with them about the importance of vehicle maintenance. Driving cautiously is one thing, but ensuring that things like brakes and tires are completely functioning is also important to reducing accidents.

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