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Health Aff (Millwood). 2015 Jun;34(6):963-70. doi: 10.1377/hlthaff.2014.0928.

Teen Crashes Declined After Massachusetts Raised Penalties For Graduated Licensing Law Restricting Night Driving.

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Shantha M. W. Rajaratnam ( is a professor in the School of Psychological Sciences at Monash University, in Victoria, Australia; a lecturer in medicine in the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School, in Boston, Massachusetts; an associate neuroscientist in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders in the Departments of Medicine and Neurology at Brigham and Women's Hospital, in Boston; and a program leader in the Cooperative Research Centre for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, in Melbourne, Australia.
Christopher P. Landrigan is an associate professor of pediatrics and medicine at Harvard Medical School; research and fellowship director, Inpatient Pediatrics Service, Division of General Pediatrics, Department of Medicine, Children's Hospital, in Boston; and director of the Sleep and Patient Safety Program, Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Wei Wang is a lecturer in medicine at Harvard Medical School and an associate mathematician in the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women's Hospital.
Rachel Kaprielian was registrar of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles, in Boston. She is currently Region I (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, and Vermont) regional director for the US Department of Health and Human Services, in Boston.
Richard T. Moore served in the Massachusetts State Senate from 1996 to 2014, representing the Worcester and Norfolk district; he previously served in the Massachusetts House of Representatives.
Charles A. Czeisler is a senior physician in and chief of the Division of Sleep and Circadian Disorders, Brigham and Women's Hospital; the Frank Baldino Jr. PhD Professor of sleep medicine, a professor of medicine, and director of the Division of Sleep Medicine at Harvard Medical School; and chair of the board of directors of the National Sleep Foundation, in Arlington, Virginia.


In 2007, as part of the Massachusetts graduated driver-licensing program designed to allow junior operators (ages 16½-17 years) to gain experience before receiving full licensure, stringent penalties were introduced for violating a law prohibiting unsupervised driving at night; driver education, including drowsy driving education, became mandatory; and other new restrictions and penalties began. We evaluated the impact of these changes on police-reported vehicle crash records for one year before and five years after the law's implementation in drivers ages 16-17, inclusive, and two comparison groups. We found that crash rates for the youngest drivers fell 18.6 percent, from 16.24 to 13.22 per 100 licensed drivers. For drivers ages 18-19 the rates fell by 6.7 percent (from 9.59 to 8.95 per 100 drivers), and for those ages 20 and older, the rate remained relatively constant. The incidence rate ratio for drivers ages 16-17 relative to those ages 20 and older decreased 19.1 percent for all crashes, 39.8 percent for crashes causing a fatal or incapacitating injury, and 28.8 percent for night crashes. Other states should consider implementing strict penalties for violating graduated driver-licensing laws, including restrictions on unsupervised night driving, to reduce the risk of sleep-related crashes in young people.


Adolescent Driver; Circadian; Drowsy Driving; Graduated Driver Licensing; Legal/Regulatory Issues; Motor Vehicle Crash; Night Driving; Penalties; Public Health; Sleep; Teen Driver

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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