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Teenage Drivers

Sadly, car crashes account for more than one-third of deaths in U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and are the leading cause of death for that age group. Most every state has passed a law that restricts young drivers from driving at night, or with a car full of teens in an effort to combat these statistics. Yet, does this make a teenage driver any safer on our roads? A recent study compared the death rates of 16-year olds and 18-year olds in states with so-called graduated licensing programs with similar drivers in states without such programs. The study found fewer fatal crashes among 16-year-olds, but more among 18-year-olds, when states had graduated driver licensing programs in place. There was no difference in fatal crashes among all teen drivers combined under the programs. Jean Shope of the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute sees that this data may prove that the graduated programs delay a teenage drivers' ability to learn how to react at night. Researchers still need to tease out whether driving restrictions help teens drive more safely -- or whether they just take them off the road, without necessarily improving behavior and future driving.

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