Laws that restrict teen drivers are not as effective as experts hoped they would be, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Though the laws reduce the number of young teen deaths, they were associated with an increase in older teen deaths. The study found that from 1986 to 2007, the rate of fatal accidents involving 16-year-old drivers was 26 percent lower in states that prohibited teens from carrying certain passengers and from driving at night than in states with neither law. However, these measures, also called graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs, were associated with a 12 percent increase in the fatal crash rate among 18-year-old drivers. When combined into one pool of drivers, the statistics negate one another.
Experts don't have a definitive explanation for the trend, but say it could be that GDL programs cause teens to wait until they're older to get their license. They then become novice drivers at the age of 18, lacking years of valuable driving experience. Some form of GDL program exists in all 50 states plus the District of Columbia.