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New Study Confirms Teen Drivers Face Dramatically Elevated Risk of Car Accidents; Supports Restrictions on Teen Drivers in Connecticut
Released: May 24, 2005

Release #05036
Contact:
Lisa Aultman-Hall
(860) 486-2717
(Director, Connecticut Transportation Institute)

Michael Kirk
(860) 486-0715
Michael.kirk@uconn.edu
(Media Relations)

STORRS, Conn. —­ The Connecticut Transportation Institute (CTI) at the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering today released a new study showing that Connecticut drivers who are between 16 and 20 years old face a significantly higher risk of being involved in automobile accidents.

The study found that younger teens are likely to cause accidents at night, on freeways, on local roads and with increased numbers of passengers in the car. According to Lisa Aultman-Hall, director of the CTI and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering at UConn, the findings support the restrictions on teen drivers adopted in Connecticut and suggests that these restrictions need to be expanded.

Key findings

  • 16 to 20 year old drivers are 66% more likely to be involved in single vehicle crashes at night than they are during the entire average day.
  • 16 to 20 year old drivers are 47% more likely to be involved in single vehicle crashes on local roads than on other road types.
  • 16 to 20 year old drivers are 2.1 times more likely to be involved in single vehicle crashes on freeways than on other road types.
  • 16 to 20 year old drivers are 37% more likely to cause a single vehicle crash with increased numbers of passengers - three or more of any age - compared to their average risk with passengers.
  • 16 and 17 year old drivers are 30% more likely to cause either single or two vehicle crashes compared to 18 – 20 year olds.

More young males than young females were involved in single and two vehicle crashes (59.3% versus 40.7%) and a higher proportion of the males were at fault in the crashes (59.3% in two vehicle crashes and 65.4% in single vehicle crashes). 

“In 1997, Connecticut implemented a partial graduated licensing program for young drivers in the state,” said Aultman-Hall.  “The law required a six-month probationary licensing period. This study clearly supports the first phase of Connecticut’s graduated licensing program when it comes to supervision, because supervision for young drivers by an adult clearly decreases the risk of both single and two-vehicle crashes.

“However, the absolute crash counts indicate that young drivers do not travel with adults as often as they do alone or with peers.  These two results suggest the need to lengthen the first phase – the learner phase – of the process. The data in this study also suggest it is more important to limit the number of passengers of any age in the vehicle, not just peer passengers.  This finding supports limiting young drivers to one passenger in the new intermediate license phase in Connecticut that came into effect January 2004. The results suggest the graduated driver licensing restrictions in place in Connecticut will reduce crashes and indicates there is the potential to improve young driver safety further by extending these restrictions,” said Aultman-Hall.

The study was sponsored by UConn and the state Department of Transportation. For a full copy of the study, visit: http://www.engr.uconn.edu/ti/Research/jhr04-298_03-5.pdf

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