Idaho Transportation

Public Affairs Office
P.O. Box 7129
Boise, ID 83707
Fax: 208.334.8563

Study shows states with strong requirements
on young drivers reduces deaths

Idaho Senate to consider bill to address licensing stages
and passenger amendments

AAA of Oregon/Idaho
BOISE - Sixteen-year-old drivers are involved in 38 percent fewer fatal crashes and 40 percent fewer crashes resulting in injuries in states with graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs that have at least five of seven common components, according to a release to be issued this week by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.

"Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death for teens in the United States, and roughly 1,000 16-year-old drivers are involved in fatal crashes each year," according to J. Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation president and CEO. The Foundation commissioned the study to better understand the ability of legislation to make a difference on teen driver safety.

"Based on the research results, the impact of GDL programs is highly impressive," said AAA Idaho Director of Public and Government Affairs Dave Carlson. "SB1119 which will be up for a hearing in the next week or two would amend Idaho's teen licensing law to make it more effective."

The foundation study concludes that certain characteristics common to effective state laws result in fewer fatal crashes and injury crashes. Seven basic GDL components were included as criteria in place in states across the U.S. They include:

  • A minimum age of 16 years for receiving a learner's permit. Idaho's minimum is 14 1/2 to take a drivers education course, followed by a minimum 4-month supervised permit process.
  • A requirement to hold the learner's permit for at least 6 months before receiving a license that allows any unsupervised driving. Idaho's law relies on a 4-month period. SB 1119 would raise the minimum to 6 months.
  • A requirement for certification of at least 30 hours of supervised driving practice during the learner stage. Idaho's current law calls for 50 hours, 10 of which are at night.
  • An intermediate stage of licensing with a minimum entry age of at least 16 years and 6 months. Idaho's intermediate stage is less defined and generally starts as young as age 15.
  • A night-time driving restriction for intermediate license holders, beginning no later than 10 p.m. Idaho's provision is stronger than most, limiting unsupervised night driving until the licensee reaches age 16.
  • A passenger restriction for intermediate license holders, allowing no more than one passenger (except family members). A similar restriction is included in the Idaho bill under consideration.
  • A minimum age of 17 years for full, unrestricted licensure. Idaho's law allows full privileges as early as age 16, but depending on the age a new driver enters the licensing process, an amendment to current law would add up to six months until age 17 when certain passenger restrictions would be in effect.

The AAA Foundation study is based on an analysis of crash data compiled and made available by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Census data, a comparison of current state laws, and information provided by AAA Government Relations.

Idaho by the numbers
Despite a 5.6 percent decrease in serious injury and fatal collisions during the first four years following passage of Idaho's law in 2000, Idaho teen drivers between 15-19 are still overrepresented in such crashes. In 2005, the state recorded 38 teen fatalities involving drivers 15-19 years, down from 68 in 2001 when the law went into effect. Unfortunately, this driver group was involved in 2.5 times as many crashes as would be expected based on the number of licensed drivers they represent.

Alhough they represented just 6.8 percent of licensed drivers, teens-agers 15-19 were involved in 13.5 percent of all drivers in fatal and serious injury crashes, based on crash safety data from Idaho's Office of Highway Operations and Safety.

A 2006 study also conducted by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety shows that 285 people were killed in Idaho teen-involved crashes from 1996-2004. Among those were 111 teen drivers 15-17 years of age, 106 passengers, 50 occupants of other vehicles, and 17 pedestrians or non-motorists.

"We hope lawmakers will understand that more needs to be done to help new drivers gain the kind of experience that will ultimately make them better and safer drivers," Carlson said. "We believe legislation now under consideration is a reasonable and prudent way to address the problem."

AAA Idaho led a coalition that helped rewrite a 50-year-old drivers licensing model which previously only required students to pass 30 hours of classroom instruction and just 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training.

Published 2-16-07