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Connecticut’s Graduated Licensing Laws Help Save Lives, Studies Show

A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and its partner the Highway Loss Data Institute has found that Connecticut and New York have the lowest teen traffic fatality rates in the country as well as the nation’s strictest graduated licensing programs. The findings may indicate a connection between tough licensing standards and lower teen fatal accident rates.

Teen Traffic Fatality Rates

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) study of 2008 teen driving data, the latest available, found that over 6,000 15-to-20 year olds were involved in deadly crashes. Car accidents are the number one cause of death in this age group, claiming over 2,700 teen lives in 2008 and injuring over a quarter-million. In 2008 in Connecticut, 36 people were killed in accidents involving teen drivers, nearly half of them teens themselves.

How Graduated Licensing Programs Work

Graduated licensing programs, or GDLs, gradually grant new drivers independence as their experience grows. GDLs have three stages: the learner’s permit stage, the intermediate license stage and eventually the full license stage.

In most states, GDL programs require new drivers with learner’s permits to drive with an experienced adult driver for a number of practice hours over a certain period of time. The new drivers are issued an intermediate license that places restrictions on night driving and driving with passengers, including peers. Once drivers demonstrate safe driving behavior over a certain period of time, they become eligible to apply for a full license.

Connecticut’s GDL Program

The IIHS study found that Connecticut’s GDL program is the best in the nation and closest to GDL best practices. In Connecticut, young drivers can apply for their learner’s permits at 16 years of age. To receive their permit, they must pass a written exam. Then, they complete 40 hours of practice hours over six months with an adult in the car, or four months if they take a driver’s education course.

Once drivers turn 16-and-a-half, or 16 and four months if they take a driver’s education course, they may apply for a restricted license. Drivers must pass a road test to obtain a restricted license. For the first six months, new drivers may not have any passengers except their parents or a driving instructor. In the second six months, they may also drive with the other members of their immediate family. They are also prohibited from driving between 11 pm and 5 am until they turn 18.

Connecticut also requires drivers under the age of 18 to take a driver’s education or home training course.

Though GDL programs help reduce teen driving fatalities, teen drivers remain some of the most dangerous drivers on the road. If you or a loved one is involved in an accident involving a teen driver, please contact an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you understand how to hold the teen responsible.