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Inj Prev. 2002 Sep;8 Suppl 2:ii9-14; discussion ii14-6.

Rationale for graduated licensing and the risks it should address.

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Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 1005 North Glebe Road, Arlington, VA 22201, USA.


The increased crash risk of young, beginning drivers has long been cause for concern. Graduated licensing systems, which seek to phase in driving experience gradually over time, have recently been adopted by many states in an effort to reduce these risks. In an attempt to define the basic rationale for graduated licensing, relevant research evidence that describes the conditions under which risk is known to be increased for young drivers was reviewed. Potential changes in licensing laws that best address these known risk factors are described. It was found that certain situations contribute to even greater crash risk, most notably nighttime driving and driving with passengers in the peer group. The underlying premise for graduated licensing is that while crash risk of young drivers is heightened under all situations, some situations are more or less risky than others. If experience can be gained initially under lower risk conditions, both in the learning stage and when first licensed, crash risk will be reduced.

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