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June 14, 2005

Study Supports Further Limits On Teen Drivers

A new study released in May by UConn’s Connecticut Transportation Institute (CTI) found that Connecticut drivers who are between 16 and 20 years old face a significantly higher risk of being involved in automobile accidents.

The author of the study, Lisa Aultman-Hall, director of the CTI and associate professor of civil and environmental engineering, said the findings support the restrictions on teen drivers adopted in Connecticut and indicate that these restrictions need to be expanded.

“In 1997, Connecticut implemented a partial graduated licensing program for young drivers in the state,” said Aultman-Hall. “The results suggest the graduated driver licensing restrictions in place in Connecticut will reduce crashes, and indicate there is the potential to improve young driver safety further by extending these restrictions. These results indicate a need to lengthen the first phase – the learner phase – of the process.”

The study examined 76,801 drivers ages 16 to 20 who were involved in single and two-vehicle crashes in Connecticut between 1997 and 2001.

The results showed that drivers ages 16 to 20 are 66 percent more likely to be involved in single-vehicle crashes at night than they are during the entire average day; are 2.1 times more likely to be involved in single-vehicle crashes on freeways than on other road types; and that 16 and 17 year-old drivers are 30 percent more likely to cause either single or two-vehicle crashes compared to 18 to 20 year-olds.

The study also noted that 16 to 20 year-old drivers are 37 percent more likely to cause a single-vehicle crash with increased numbers of passengers – three or more, of any age.

“This finding supports limiting young drivers to one passenger in the new intermediate license phase in Connecticut that came into effect in January 2004,” she said. “The data also suggests it is more important to limit the number of passengers of any age in the vehicle, not just peer passengers.”

The study also analyzed the results by gender, showing that more young males than young females were involved in single and two-vehicle crashes – 59.3 percent versus 40.7 percent; and a higher proportion of the males were at fault in the crashes – 59.3 percent in two-vehicle crashes and 65.4 percent in single-vehicle crashes.

The CTI is part of the School of Engineering. The study was sponsored by the state Department of Transportation. The full report can be found online in PDF: go to the full report.