Impact of a graduated driver's license law on crashes involving young drivers in New York State

Division of Acute Care Surgery, Department of Surgery, University of Rochester Medical Center, New York 14642, USA.
The journal of trauma and acute care surgery 08/2012; 73(2):457-61. DOI: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31825880f3
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Motor vehicle crashes constitute the greatest risk of injury for young adults. Graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws have been used to reduce the number of injuries and deaths in the young driver population. The New York State GDL law increased supervision of young driver and limited both time-of-day driven and number of passengers. This review examines the impact of a GDL enacted in New York in September 2003.
A retrospective review of New York State administrative databases from 2001 to 2009 was performed. During this period, a state-wide GDL requirement was implemented. Database review included all reported crashes to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles by cause and driver age as well as motor fuel tax receipts by the New York State Comptroller's Office. Motor fuel tax receipts and consumption information were used as a proxy for overall miles driven.
Before 2003, drivers younger than 18 years were involved in 90 fatal crashes and 10,406 personal-injury (PI) crashes, constituting 4.49% and 3.38% of all fatal and PI crashes in New York State, respectively. By 2009, the number of fatal and PI crashes involving drivers who are younger than 18 years decreased to 44 (2.87%) and 5,246 (2.24%), respectively. Of note, the number of crashes experienced by the age group 18 years to 20 years during this period also declined, from 192 (9.59% of all fatal crashes) and 25,407 (8.24% of all PI crashes) to 135 (8.81%) and 18,114 (7.73%), respectively. Overall numbers of crashes reported remained relatively stable, between 549,000 in 2001 and 520,000 in 2009. Motor fuel use during this period also declined, but to a lesser degree ($552 million to $516 million or 6.6%).
The use of a GDL law in New York State has shown a large decrease in the number of fatalities and PI crashes involving young drivers. The delay in full driver privileges from the GDL did not result in an increase in fatal or PI crashes in the next older age group.

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