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Do stricter nighttime driving rules lead to safer teen drivers?

There are many concerns that can arise regarding teen drivers when it comes to nighttime driving. For one, visibility tends to not be as good when driving at night, which could be problematic for a young driver who is still trying to get the hang of driving. Also, nighttime driving can sometimes create a drowsy driving risk for teens at a stage in their driving experience when they may not be that good at gauging if they are too tired to drive.

Given the major safety concerns nighttime driving can raise in relation to teen drivers, it is not surprising that one thing that it is common for states to include in their teen driving laws are laws restricting nighttime driving for teens with certain classes of licenses.

There are such restrictions here in West Virginia. Under state law, teen drivers who have an intermediate license are generally restricted from driving between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. in the state. As a note, there are no such restrictions for teen drivers that have made it up to a full license.

A recent study indicates that having tough rules regarding teen nighttime driving may be good for teen driver safety.

The study looked at what happened with teen crashes in a state after it increased the toughness of its laws restricting teens from nighttime driving.

The state in question is Massachusetts. In 2007, it made some changes regarding its teen driver laws, including upping the penalties for violations of teen nighttime driving restrictions.

From a review of traffic crash data, the study found that after these law changes were made, several encouraging trends regarding 16-year-old and 17-year-old drivers occurred in Massachusetts, including:

  • A drop in crashes involving such drivers.
  • A drop in serious/fatal accidents involving such drivers.
  • A drop in nighttime crashes involving such drivers.

Do you think strict teen nighttime driving rules generally have positive impacts on teen driver safety? Do you think West Virginia should make its teen nighttime driving rules stricter than they currently are? If so, in what ways would you like to see the strictness increased?

Sources: U.S. News & World Report, "Tougher Night Driving Rules for Teens May Lower Crash Rates," Robert Preidt, June 8, 2015

AAA Keys2Drive, "Licensing and State Laws," Accessed June 18, 2015

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