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Are GDL Programs Effective in Reducing Teen Car Accidents in Massachusetts?

As we recently reported on our Boston Car Accident Lawyer Blog, our state keeps upping the restrictive laws within our Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program to help reduce the risks of teen car accidents in Massachusetts. While these new restrictions seem to be doing the job for young, newly-licensed drivers, the problem is that 18-year-old drivers are experiencing an increased risk for fatal car accidents once the restrictions are lifted, according to CNN Health.
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Our Boston teen car accident attorneys understand that these recently released statistics illustrate the importance of parental involvement in a young driver’s life. Parents and guardians are urged to continue to keep safe driving habits as a frequent topic of conversation long after your young one has completed the GDL program, which began in the United States in 1996.

A recent study from the Journal of the American Medical Association concludes that from 1986 to 2007, 16-year-old drivers who participated in a strict GDL program experienced a decrease of more than 25 percent in fatal car accidents than those who weren’t involved in a strict program. However, 18-year-old drivers who had completed a strict GDL program saw more than a 10 percent increase in fatal accidents compared to those who hadn’t participated in a strict program.

“Right now, we’re not getting the net effect across all teens that we’re hoping for,” says Scott V. Masten, Ph.D., author of the study.

Advocates are unable to explain why 18-year-old drivers experience the sudden increase in fatal car accidents. Some believe it’s a reaction to the restricted driving stages they experience in a strict GDL program. Since the young drivers were sheltered from dangerous driving habits, they become overwhelmed once these restrictions are lifted.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that approximately 2,300 drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed in traffic accidents in the U.S. in 2009. There were approximately 195,000 members of this age group injured in the more than 5,100 traffic accidents that involved one of these young drivers.

As a parent, stay involved in your teen’s driving career by:

-Asking that your child calls you once he or she arrives at their destination, and then once again when they’re leaving to head home.

-Limit the number of passengers that are allowed to ride in your teen’s vehicle. Driver distractions, including other passengers, are one of the main causes for teen car accidents.

-Create and enforce a teen-parent driving contract to law down the ground rules for driving and the consequences for breaking them.

-Take a ride with your child regularly. This will help you to keep an eye on their driving habits.

-Set a good example. Be sure to always practice what you preach and be on your best driving behavior when your teen is riding in the vehicle with you.

In Massachusetts, there were nearly 50 people killed in motor-vehicle accidents in 2009 that involved a teenage driver. Teen driving accidents can be prevented with thorough and extensive teen-driver education.

If you or your teen driver has been involved in a car accident in Massachusetts, contact the car accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman for a free and confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call 877-617-5333.

Additional Resources:

Teen restrictions fail to curb fatal crashes, by Amanda Gardner, CNN Health
More Blog Entries:

New Videos Illustrate Risks, Dangers and Consequences of Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Massachusetts
September 11, 2011

Young Drivers Prohibited from Cell Phone Use to Reduce Risks of Fatal Car Accidents in Massachusetts
September 15, 2011