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J Safety Res. 2004;35(5):523-35.

Evaluation of California's graduated driver licensing program.

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California Department of Motor Vehicles, Research and Development Branch MS F126, 2415 1st Avenue Sacramento, California 95818, USA.



California's graduated driver licensing (GDL) program was implemented to reduce the high crash risk of teenage drivers. The program enhancements made in 1998 were evaluated in this study using methods that rule out the noticeable downward trend in California teen's fatal/injury crash rates as a possible explanation for any observed crash reductions that could otherwise be mistaken for program effects.


Monthly per capita fatal/injury crash rates for 15-to-17-year-olds and proportional representations of 16-17-year-olds' nighttime and passenger crashes were analyzed using intervention time series analysis.


After removing trend, seasonality, and transition effects in the data, no overall reductions in fatal/injury crashes for 15-17-year-olds or 16-year-olds (separately) were found to be associated with the 1998 program enhancements, suggesting no overall exposure reduction effect of the longer instruction permit period nor increased competency associated with the higher number of required practice hours. However, the 12-month nighttime and 6-month passenger restrictions were found to be associated with annual savings of 55 and 816 fatal/injury crashes, respectively.


Finding no overall impact of the 1998 GDL enhancements was not surprising given findings of an earlier survey suggesting that California teens and parents were largely already practicing program requirements prior to implementation and were not fully complying with the program requirements afterwards. Though the observed crash savings associated with the restrictions were of modest size, this is the first study to evidence a direct positive impact of the passenger restriction component of GDL programs. Larger reductions could be realized if the nighttime restriction started earlier and parents/law enforcement could be motivated to better enforce these restrictions.


The findings provide support for passenger and nighttime restriction components of GDL programs.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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