Drivers ages 18 to 20 are 1.6 times more likely to be involved in a fatal car crash than their 15 to 17-year-old counterparts, according to new statistics published by the Governor’s Highway Safety Association. The study comes in the midst of Teen Driver Safety Week, a national awareness campaign that promotes safe driving among teenage drivers.
The study from the GHSA, titled Mission Not Accomplished: Teen Safe Driving, the Next Chapter, points to teen-involved crash deaths that spiked by 10 percent in 2015, prompting the association to call on State Highway Safety Offices to monitor the patterns of teen-driving crashes more closely, especially among older teens.
The numbers for this year’s analysis, covering a decade-long range between 2005-2014, is primarily culled from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, a process that records all vehicle crashes that occur in the U.S. that result in a fatality.
Among the recommendations to curb teen driving-related fatalities, as provided by the study’s authors, is a more focused approach to the Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program, a three-stage process that has been noted for its ability to reduce teen crash risk by as much as 30 percent.
The GDL program is currently employed by all 50 states, but teens age out of GDL requirements once they turn 18. One in 3 teens are not licensed by then, meaning they are eligible to receive a license without going through the requisite training of those who wish to obtain one before then.
“Policy makers need to understand that reaching age 18 doesn’t necessarily equate to mental maturity — which is critical for safe driving,” said Pam Fischer, a transportation safety expert and one of the authors of the new study, in a statement.
The GHSA is hoping to expand GDL requirements to include all drivers ages 21 and under, and includes 11 policies and best practices for all states to implement. Suggestions included opportunities to provide more training for older teen drivers, high visibility enforcement, continued parental involvement, and safe driving programs at colleges.