New Report Suggests Teen Drivers’ Curfew Should be Earlier
Nearly all states in the US, including California, restrict the hours of the day that a newly-permitted or licensed driver may be behind the wheel. A recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says these curfews may not be restrictive enough to prevent the large share of teen roadway fatalities which occur at night.
Teen drivers constitute only 8% of all drivers on the road, but account for some 20% of all fatalities due to car accidents. In fact, auto accidents remain the leading cause of death among teenagers, despite a decline in fatality rates among teens over the past 20 years. The recent finding regarding teens’ fatality rates in nighttime accidents was one of the items included in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, released earlier this summer. According to the report, despite the fact that only 11% of all trips completed by teen drivers are made when it is dark out, 31% of all fatal accidents involving drivers aged 16 or 17 occurred between 9:00 pm and 5:59 am. Fifty-seven percent of those nighttime accidents occurred before midnight. Most states’ restrictions on teen drivers begin at midnight.
In California, young drivers with a learner’s permit may never drive between the hours of 11:01 pm and 5:00 am. For the first year after the driver has passed the driving test and obtained a provisional license, young drivers between 16 and 18 are still barred from being on the road between 11:01 and 5:00, unless the driver meets one of the narrow exceptions. Drivers with a full license who are at least 18 years of age may not drive between midnight and 5:00 am without an adult accompanying them. According to the CDC’s report, additional teen lives would be saved if the restriction began earlier in the evening, in order to protect both teen drivers and others on California’s roads.
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