BOSTON (AP) — The number of new teenage drivers involved in traffic accidents in Massachusetts has been cut in half since 2007 when the state boosted the amount of training required of young drivers, state officials said.
But the drop in the number of accidents also came at a time when the number of 16- and 17-year-olds with a Massachusetts driver’s license plunged by one-fourth, according to Boston Globe (http://b.globe.com/1a4YJfN ) analysis.
Sixteen- and 17-year-old drivers were involved in a little more than 6,400 crashes reported to police last year, compared with 12,673 in 2006, according to preliminary figures from the state Department of Transportation. The number of the most serious accidents — those causing injuries or deaths — has fallen even faster.
“This is proof positive that the law is working,” said Rachel Kaprielian, who oversees the state’s Registry of Motor Vehicles.
The 2007 law more than tripled the number of hours teens must spend driving under their parents’ supervision to 40 hours. It also doubled the number of hours needed with an instructor behind the wheel to 12, and required parents to attend a two-hour seminar in order for drivers under 18 to get their license.
And it increased the penalties for unsafe driving, which may have encouraged licensed teens to be more careful, officials said.
The law also drove up the cost and hassles of obtaining a driver’s license, prompting some to put off the process, according to teens.
Today’s teens are also more likely to rely on other modes of transportation.
“This younger generation for whatever reason appears to be more willing to accept biking and public transportation as a mode of transportation,” said Michael Knodler Jr., a civil engineering professor at the University of Massachusetts who has studied driver safety.
The recession also meant fewer teens were working, leading to less need to drive, and less money to buy a car.
Information from: The Boston Globe, http://www.bostonglobe.com