Examining the Safety Implications of Later Licensure: Crash Rates of Older vs. Younger Novice Drivers Before and After Graduated Driver Licensing
Crash involvement by 16- and 17-year-old drivers has decreased substantially over the past 15 years. This is largely due to the widespread adoption of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs and to the Great Recession, which substantially reduced driving by young teenagers. However, with one exception—New Jersey—GDL systems apply only to new drivers younger than 18, and crash reductions have been smaller among older teenage drivers. A recent study estimated that one third of new young drivers do not obtain a license to drive unsupervised until age 18 or later. Historically, studies of novice drivers in the United States have focused on drivers ages 17 and younger; many have only studied 16- year-olds. Individuals who do not begin driving until age 18 or older have rarely been studied in the U.S. The purpose of this study was to examine the crash involvement of newly licensed young drivers up through age 20 in two states—California and North Carolina—for their first three years of unsupervised driving, to determine how crash rates of these novices are related to the age at which they began driving. This was done before and after each state’s GDL system was introduced.