Saving Teenage Lives

 

 

 

 

 

 

A graduated driver licensing program was considered a "good" or "excellent" idea by nearly 45 percent of all respondents, while 75 percent of the parents of teenagers liked the idea.

Section V

Support for Graduated Driver Licensing

Public Opinion

Two recent public opinion surveys point to widespread support for graduated driver licensing. A 1996 public opinion poll conducted by the American Automobile Association found that nearly three out of four respondents favor limiting the use of cars by 15-to-20-year-olds until they gain sufficient driving experience.

In 1995, the Public Attitude Monitor, an annual poll conducted by the Insurance Research Council, asked respondents to rate various suggestions for reducing auto crashes among young drivers. A graduated driver licensing program was considered a "good" or "excellent" idea by nearly 45 percent of all respondents, while 75 percent of the parents of teenagers liked the idea. Nighttime driving restrictions and zero alcohol tolerance ranked about the same. Interestingly, nearly half of all respondents thought raising the driving age to 18 was a "good" or "excellent" idea (the rate was 60 percent for parents of teenagers).3

Teen Drivers

It may be surprising to learn that teenagers accept and support graduated driver licensing at fairly high levels. Teenagers in New Zealand were interviewed at age 15 (before they received their license) and again at age 18. At both ages, more than 70 percent of them supported the driving restrictions in place. Sixty-seven percent of Nova Scotia teens with restricted licenses said they approved of the graduated driver licensing system. In general, older teens looking back on their inexperienced years are even more supportive than those currently under restrictions.

 Overall Approval of the Graduated Licensing System
 

 Highly Approve (%)

 Somewhat
Approve (%)

 Somewhat Disapprove (%)

 Highly Disapprove (%)

 Neutral (%)
Learner Stage
 Teenagers

18

43

 28

 9

 1

 Parents

 67

 20

 2

 1

 10

           
Newly Licensed Stage
 Teenagers

 10

57

20

 12

 2

 Parents

 74

 18

 2

 2

 4

Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (Graduated Driver Licensing in Nova Scotia­May 1997)

Parents

Parents often look forward to the time when their teenager is licensed so they are released from the burden of chauffeuring their children to school, jobs, sports and other activities. But parents also recognize that teen drivers are at risk, no matter how "good" their children otherwise might be. Support for graduated driver licensing and its components is generally high among parents of teenagers.

In 1994, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety surveyed parents of 17-year-olds and found that:

  • 58 percent favored a comprehensive
  • graduated driver licensing package;
  • 90 percent favored a minimum period of supervised driving before full licensure;
  • 74 percent favored night driving curfews;
  • 43 percent favored restricting teenage passengers during the first few months of driving; and
  • 97 percent favored zero alcohol tolerance for teenagers.

As noted above under Public Opinion, parents of teenagers gave higher than average ratings to all suggestions for lowering teen auto crashes, including graduated driver licensing.

Support also is strong among law enforcement agencies, the medical community and within state, county and local governments. (See "Who Supports Graduated Driver Licensing?" below).

 Who Supports Graduated Driver Licensing?
  • AAA
  • Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
  • Allstate Insurance
  • American Academy of Family Physicians
  • American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators
  • American Automobile Manufacturers Association
  • American Coalition for Traffic Safety
  • American College of Emergency Physicians
  • American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association
  • Beer Institute and its member companies
  • Brain Injury Association
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Century Council
  • Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S. and its member companies
  • General Federation of Women's Clubs
  • Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
  • International Association of Chiefs of Police
  • Mothers Against Drunk Driving
  • National Association of Governors' Highway Safety Representatives
  • National Association of Independent Insurers
  • National Center on Education in Maternal and Child Health
  • National Commission Against Drunk Driving
  • National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances
  • National Flight Nurses Association
  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
  • National Safety Council
  • National Sheriffs' Association
  • National Transportation Safety Board
  • Nationwide Insurance
  • Police Executive Research Forum
  • Students Against Destructive Decisions
  • Society of Trauma Nurses
  • State Farm Insurance
  • USAA Insurance