[2 MB, 12 pgs.]
Summer 2011 | Vol. 13 | No. 2
Indiana Licensing Law Proven to Reduce Crashes
A new report by the Indiana Public Policy Institute demonstrates the effectiveness of Indiana’s teen driver licensing policies. Effects of Graduated Driver Licensing on Crash Outcomes in Indiana reports that since new licensing restrictions went into effect, Indiana has seen hundreds fewer crashes involving young drivers.
Researchers at the Center for Criminal Justice Research, part of the Indiana Public Policy Institute at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis analyzed crash data to determine that:
- Crashes involving young drivers dropped sharply after the state raised the minimum age for getting a driving license or permit;
- Restrictions did not appear to reduce crashes caused by teens driving late at night or with passengers in the vehicle; and
- Crashes involving young drivers using cell phones declined after a ban took effect.
Highway safety advocates expect this applied research can be used to further strengthen driver licensing policy. According to report author Matt Nagle, “With this study and with others that will follow, we can evaluate the effects of the graduated license law and use the research to inform discussions about future improvements in the law and its enforcement.” Indiana’s GDL policies first took effect in July 2009, with nighttime and passenger restrictions and a ban on all cell phone use while driving for those under 18. Researchers did not find strong evidence of safety gains attributable to the passenger and nighttime driving provisions, as the number of teen drivers in crashes with passengers and at driving late at night remained comparatively unchanged.
The report speculates that there was insufficient law enforcement to convince teens to change these behaviors. However, the ban on cell phone use may have influenced behavior since the number of drivers under 18 who crashed while using cell phones declined from 0.71 percent to 0.56 percent.
In July 2010, a second phase of Indiana’s GDL law went into effect, increasing the minimum age for teens to get permits or licenses and extending the time between getting a permit and getting a license. Report authors found that the decrease in the number of licensed young drivers led to a reduction in crashes.
An analysis of crash data showed that teen drivers decreased from just less than 6 percent of all drivers involved in crashes, in the second quarter of 2010, to 4.5 percent in the fourth quarter. Additionally, there were approximately 400 fewer 16- to 16-1/2-year-old driver crashes in the second half of 2010 than historical trends predicted.
Researchers also plan to evaluate whether older teenager drivers are safer drivers, but this data will not be available for several months.
Find the full report online at www.policyinstitute.iu.edu/PubsPDFs/TrafficBrief_GDL2011_Final.pdf.