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J Trauma Acute Care Surg. 2013 Oct;75(4 Suppl 3):S281-4. doi: 10.1097/TA.0b013e31828f9967.

Statewide policies for safer teen driving: an evaluation of the impact of graduated driver licensing in Arkansas.



Graduated driver licensing (GDL) requirements aim to reduce the incidence of motor vehicle crashes and crash-related fatalities for novice drivers by limiting their exposure to the most risky driving situations. These programs vary across states in their scope, intensity, and impact. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the short-term impact of the 2009 Arkansas GDL on reducing teen crashes and fatal crashes.


Arkansas motor vehicle crash data for 2008 and 2010 were compared. Changes in rates per 10,000 licensed drivers were calculated by age, during the night restriction, and for drivers with passengers. χ2 analyses were used to test significant differences in rates between pre- and post-GDL years for each age group.


Significant decreases in crash rates were found for each age group younger than 19 years, with the largest change evident for 16-year-olds (reduction of 22%). Similar decreases were not found for adults 19 years and older. Rates of fatal crashes for 14- to 18-year-olds were reduced 59%. Nighttime crashes and crashes in vehicles driven by teens with more than one unrelated passenger also demonstrated reductions.


This study provides evidence of a short-term impact of GDL restrictions on reducing teen driver crashes and fatal crashes in Arkansas. Findings for teen drivers were significantly different from those of adult drivers during the same time frame, further strengthening the results as a function of GDL restrictions as compared with alternative explanations.

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