CDC Calls for Updates to Teen Driving Restrictions
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Adjustments to Teen Driving Restrictions Could Save Lives, CDC Finds

teens texting and drivingAccording to research by an epidemiologist from the Centers from Disease Control and Prevention, accidents involving teenage drivers fall into something of a predictable pattern, and that is why adjustments to graduated licensing rules may be in order.

The study suggests that understanding what time of day teens are most likely to have a fatal crash can help state authorities tailor nighttime driving limits to reduce mortality rates.

Dangers of nighttime teen driving

Because operating a vehicle is more of a challenge once the sun goes down, almost every state has imposed restrictions on how late teens can drive at night without an accompanying adult. Researchers from the CDC were determined to explore how these limitations match up with the times of day in which teens actually drive. The study revealed that while most teenage driving does happen during daylight hours, an alarming share of deadly crashes in which they are involved take place at night.

National as well as state-level numbers were assessed to identify when teens tended to crash as well as their peak driving hours. When nighttime collision data were explored in detail, it was found that 57 percent of such events happened prior to midnight. This takes on particular importance because almost half of the states that impose nighttime driving restrictions on teens do so only for the time period of midnight and beyond.

Implications for graduated driver licensing rules

There can be no doubt that night driving adds an element of risk for everyone who gets behind the wheel, but particularly for teen drivers who possess far less experience. In response to these known facts, 49 states as well as the District of Columbia have long instituted night driving restrictions as part of their graduated driver licensing programs. Unfortunately, in 23 of those states as well as in D.C., the restrictions do not begin until 12:00 a.m., a time at which most young drivers are not actually on the road. Study data shows that 93 percent of nighttime trips made by drivers in the 16-17 year-old age group in fact concluded before midnight, rendering the limitations somewhat moot.

As a result of these findings, the study’s author suggests that states seeking to increase safety for teen drivers and reduce the annual rate of fatalities should examine the possibility of revising nighttime driving limitations to encompass earlier periods. It is thought that restrictions beginning at 9 p.m. or even 10 p.m. have the potential to save a significant number of lives. Such a shift could build upon the massive success graduated driver licensing has already had in lowering teen driving deaths, with the national rate having been slashed in half over the past twenty years.

Advocacy for auto accident victims

The sheer inexperience of newly licensed teen drivers is something which adds a frightening element of risk for everyone on the roadways, and when texting, social distractions and darkness of night enter the mix, the consequences can sometimes be catastrophic. The Sanders Firm car accident attorneys support legislation designed to reduce the rate of serious injury and death due to vehicle accidents, particularly those caused by inexperienced or reckless teen drivers.

If you or a loved one have suffered harm due to the negligence of another driver, we stand prepared to help you pursue full and fair financial compensation. To schedule a no-cost consultation with our firm, we invite you to contact us at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, Graduated Driver Licensing Night Driving Restrictions and Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Night Crashes – United States, 2009-2014, https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/65/wr/mm6529a1.htm

  2. National Public Radio, Most Nighttime Crashes With Teen Drivers Happen Before Midnight, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/08/03/488521545/most-nighttime-crashes-with-teen-drivers-happen-before-midnight

  3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Teen Drivers: Get the Facts, https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2016/08/03/488521545/most-nighttime-crashes-with-teen-drivers-happen-before-midnight

  4. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Fatality Facts: Teenagers, https://www.iihs.org/iihs/topics/t/teenagers/fatalityfacts/teenagers