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MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2016 Jul 29;65(29):725-30. doi: 10.15585/mmwr.mm6529a1.

Graduated Driver Licensing Night Driving Restrictions and Drivers Aged 16 or 17 Years Involved in Fatal Night Crashes - United States, 2009-2014.


Fatal crash risk is higher at night for all drivers, but especially for young, inexperienced drivers (1). To help address the increased crash risk for beginner teen drivers, 49 states and the District of Columbia include a night driving restriction (NDR) in their Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) system. NDRs have been shown to reduce crashes among newly licensed teens, with higher reductions associated with NDRs starting at 10:00 p.m. or earlier (2-3). However, in 23 states and the District of Columbia, NDRs begin at 12:00 a.m. or later, times when most teen drivers subject to GDL are not driving. CDC analyzed 2009-2014 national and state-level data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) to determine the proportion of drivers aged 16 or 17 years involved in fatal crashes who crashed at night (9:00 p.m.-5:59 a.m.) and the proportion of these drivers who crashed before 12:00 a.m. Nationwide, among 6,104 drivers aged 16 or 17 years involved in fatal crashes during 2009-2014, 1,865 (31%) were involved in night crashes. Among drivers involved in night crashes, 1,054 (57%) crashed before 12:00 a.m. State-level analyses revealed an approximately twofold variation among states in both the proportions of drivers aged 16 or 17 years involved in fatal crashes that occurred at night and the proportions of night fatal crash involvements that occurred before 12:00 a.m. Because nearly all of the night driving trips taken by drivers aged 16 or 17 years end before 12:00 a.m., NDRs beginning at 12:00 a.m. or later provide minimal protection. States could consider updating their NDR coverage to include earlier nighttime hours. This descriptive report summarizes the characteristics of NDRs, estimates the extent to which drivers aged 16 or 17 years drive at night, and describes their involvement in fatal nighttime crashes during 2009-2014. The effects of NDRs on crashes were not evaluated because of the small state-level sample sizes during the 6-year study period.

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