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GDL Programs Increase Risks for Car Accidents in Waynesville for Older Teens

Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) programs may not be as effective in preventing teen car accidents in Asheville and elsewhere in North Carolina as once predicted. The three-tier system gradually exposes driving conditions to new drivers. The problem with the system has been pointed out in a recent analysis, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. The article stated that more teens are being involved in fatal accidents once they turn 18 and receive an unrestricted license, according to CNN Health.The study pointed out that the rate of fatal accidents among 16-year-old drivers experienced a 26 percent decrease from 1986 to 2007, while 18-year-old drivers experienced a 12 percent increase. The increase completely canceled out the progress made by the younger drivers.

Our North Carolina car accident attorneys understand that teen drivers require the assistance and concern of parents long after they’ve completed the GDL system. What we need to take from this recent article is that our work as parents and role models is not done once a teen gets an unrestricted license. Clear through high school and college, parents need to make sure safe driving habits are a frequent topic of conversation.

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

The study was unable to pinpoint the exact cause for the increase in these traffic fatalities, but it may have to do with a form of “payback” for the restrictive stages of the GDL system. With restricted stages, these programs may have deprived younger drivers from a thorough driving experience as many of them have been delayed with getting their license. The author of the study says that in many cases, teens toss out the idea of restricted licensing and skip to their full-unrestricted license once they’ve turned 18.

“There’s a belief that graduated licensing has led to a delay,” says Anne McCartt, a senior vice president at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Studies of the GDL system have gone far beyond the effect of the restrictions and the stages on young drivers and are now focusing more on how to better protect and prepare drivers once they’ve received an unrestricted license.

North Carolina’s GDL system:

Level 1:

-Must be at least 15-years-old.

-Must have completed the Driver Education course and passed a written test, signage test and an eye test.

-Must drive with the supervision of a parent or approved adult.

-Can only drive from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. for the first 6 months. Drivers are able to drive during any time after the first 6 months.

-Everyone in the vehicle is required to wear a seat belt.

-There can only be as many passengers as there are working seat belts.

-A driver is required to obtain this license for at least one year.

-The last 6 months of the stage must be violation-free to move on to Level 2.

Level 2:

-Must be at least 16-years-old.

-May drive unsupervised from 5:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., but must be supervised the rest of the time.

-All occupants of the vehicle must wear a seat belt.

-The number of passengers must not exceed the number of working seat belts.

-A driver must spend at least 6 months in this stage and cannot advance to the next stage until completing 6 consecutive months of violation-free driving.

Level 3:

-A driver must be at least 16.5-years-old.

-Everyone in the vehicle must wear a seat belt.

-There can be no more passengers than there are seat belts.

In North Carolina, there were more than 200 teens killed because of traffic accidents in 2009. Many teen roadway fatalities can be avoided if we continue to press the issue of safe driving habits once a teen has completed the GDL program. No one is ever safe from a traffic accident.

If you or your teen has been involved in a car accident, contact the North Carolina injury attorneys at Grimes Teich Anderson LLP. Call 1.800.533.6845. No Attorney Fees Until You’ve Been Paid.

Additional resources:

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

Motorists More Likely to Die in Car Accidents in North Carolina Rural Areas than in Big Cities, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 30, 2011

Debates Continue – Are Red-Light Cameras Reducing Risks for Intersection Car Accidents in North Carolina?, North Carolina Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, August 11, 2011

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