Effectiveness of GDL Program to Prevent Fatal Teen Car Accidents in Kansas City Questioned

Your teen driver must complete a number of restricted driving stages before he or she is eligible to receive a full driver's license, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Unfortunately, during this time they're most likely to die in a car accident in Kansas City and elsewhere throughout the state of Missouri. Although the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program is designed to help educate your young driver through three stages, parents' assistance is still vital in the learning process.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the number of fatal accidents among 16-year-old drivers in states that participated in the GDL program dipped more than 25 percent from 1986 to 2007. The number of these accidents experienced by 18-year-old drivers increased significantly, however.

Our Missouri car accident attorneys understand that teaching teenagers to drive may be one of the most beneficial educations we can provide them. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for teens in the United States. The GDL program helps to educate teens to drive by requiring them to complete a number of driving stages, including limiting nighttime driving and regulating the number of passengers they can drive with. But one of the most popular concerns of parents and safe-driving advocates is whether they're going to be alright behind the wheel once these restrictions are lifted.

Among drivers who are 18 years old, there was more than a 10 percent increase in the number of fatal accidents involving drivers that had completed a GDL program. This increase brought the average death rate for this group right back to where it started, according to CNN Health.

GDL programs started in the United States in 1996 and since then there has been about 1,400 fewer fatal accidents that involved a 16-year-old driver and more than 1,000 more fatal accidents involving 18-year-old drivers.

No one has been able to provide an explanation as to why the number of these accidents increases in the 18-year-old drivers. Some believe the only answer may be that the increased number is some sort of "payback" for the restricted phases they've been put through. Some experts believe that the GDL system may ultimately deprive young drivers from getting a valuable driving experience, and in some cases could possibly lead to a delay getting a complete license.

"They're saying, 'Forget it. I'll wait till I'm 18,'" says Scott V. Masten, Ph.D., the lead author of a study cited in the AMA report, according to "We have more novice 18- and 19-year-olds with no driving experience."

GDL programs are currently operating in some manner in every state and the District of Columbia. All states require that a teenager get a learner's permit first. During this time, a young driver can drive only with a parent or another licensed adult over the age of 21. Stages after this one vary from state to state.

Accident rates in all states mirror each other. States with stronger programs and certain restrictions typically see a 16 percent lower rate of fatal accidents in 16-year-old drivers, but a 10 percent higher accident rate in 18-year-old drivers.

"The expectation was that older [teen] drivers wouldn't be affected much one way or the other...," says the vice president for the IIHS, Anne McCartt, Ph.D., according to

The total effects of the GDL program on teen drivers have yet to be concluded through all age groups. Regardless, parents are urged to remain involved in their teens' driving career, as well as monitoring their abilities to help address problems that could potentially result in a serious accident.

If you or your teen has been involved in a car accident in Kansas City or elsewhere in Missouri, contact the Personal Injury Lawyers at Aaron Sachs Associates PC, for a free initial consultation. Call (888) 777-AUTO (2886).

Additional Resources:

Teen restrictions fail to curb fatal crashes, by Amanda Gardner, CNN Health

More Blog Entries:

Two Children in St. Louis Children's Hospital after Sikeston Car Accident, Southeast Missouri Car Accident Lawyer Blog, September 6, 2011

Crash Study Looks for Ways to Prevent Dexter Missouri Car Accidents Before They Happen, Southeast Missouri Car Accident Lawyer Blog, August 5, 2011

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