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License Plate Decals for Teen Drivers Found to Reduce Crash Rates

A recently released study from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) found that 1,500 accidents involving teen drivers in New Jersey were prevented thanks to decals placed on the license plates of new drivers.

According to researchers, Kyleigh’s law which requires new drivers who are aged 16 to 20 to put a reflective decal on their front and back plates helped prevent 1,624 of those new drivers from becoming involved in a crash.

Kyleigh’s law is the only one of its kind in the United Sates. It was designed to assist authorities enforce graduated driver licensing (GDL) requirements. GDL laws put limits and restrictions on new motorists while they are getting driving experience. Common restrictions often include limiting the number of passengers in the vehicle, and curfews regarding driving at night. According to CHOP, better enforcement resulted in few crashes. During the study, which was a world first, the number of GDL citations shot up while crashes fell.

A jump of 14 percent in citations resulted in a 9 percent decrease in accidents. The rate of multiple-vehicle crashes fell 8 percent and the number of accidents that involved teen passengers also dropped 9 percent.

According the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Kentucky, Michigan, Alaska, Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina are considering implementing a decal system but as of today none of them have approved a decal requirement. 

Insurance Institute Debuts GDL Calculator

The Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) unveiled an online calculator recently that calculates the number of fatalities and accident claims that could be avoided if states implemented certain GDL restrictions.

According to the calculator, the strongest GDL programs will incorporate driving permits for 16-year olds which require 65 hours of supervised driving. The HDLI calculator claims that if these types of programs were implemented across the United States it would prevent 9,500 crashes and save 500 lives per year.

Unfortunately, very few states have implemented these types of laws. New Jersey is one that has taken the necessary steps to pass a GDL law that meets one of the requirements of the IIHS and HDLI calculator. New Jersey issues permits at age 16 and a driver cannot get a full license until they hit 17. The state falls behind on the other requirements though. Their nighttime driving curfew starts at 11 p.m. not the recommended 8 p.m. New Jersey doesn’t require any practice hours either, ignoring the 65 recommended by the calculator.

The Federal Government is getting involved and recently finalized legislation which includes a grant program that will issue funds to states that implement stronger GDL requirements.

A recent study found that requiring decals on the license plates of new drivers helped increase citation rates for GDL infractions and prevented a significant amount of accidents and fatalities. While few states currently have the recommended restrictions in place, the federal government is getting involved with a grant program to tighten GDL restrictions.

 
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