*The following is excerpted from an online article from the Washington Post.
The number of teen drivers involved in fatal crashes dropped by more than half over the past decade as vehicles became safer and more young people received restricted licenses, a new report finds.
“Many factors are probably at play, but there is wide agreement the graduated-licensing programs are an important contributor to the decline in fatal crashes,” Ruth Shults, the report’s lead author, said by e-mail.
Graduated licenses can limit teen driving at night or restrict teenage passengers, reducing the overall crash rate among the youngest teen drivers by 20 to 40 percent, said Shults, an injury prevention researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.
Aided by an increase in graduated-license programs, the number of drivers age 16 to 19 who were involved in fatal crashes in 2013 fell by 55 percent, to 2,568, down from 5,724 in 2004, according the CDC report.
Some of those who might otherwise be involved in crashes may not have licenses yet, as more students wait until after they turn 18 to start driving, said Eric Teoh, a senior statistician at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Arlington.
New safety features in cars, such as electronic stability systems, are also contributing to the decline in fatal crashes, Teoh said.
Across the 42 states included in the survey, the proportion of high school students who drive ranged from about 53 percent to about 90 percent, with the highest rates in the Midwestern and Mountain states, where population density is low. West Coast states including California, Washington and Oregon were among the eight excluded from the study.