CDC Calls For More Nighttime Driving Restrictions For Teens To Prevent Auto Accidents

In response to new evidence that suggests nearly one-third of all fatal auto accidents involving teen drivers occur at night, federal health officials indicate that stronger restrictions on teen night driving are necessary in the United States. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a new report on July 29, calling for further nighttime restrictions for teenage drivers. The report calls for restricted driving times to begin earlier in the evening to prevent teens from driving at night.

The recommendations comes amid a recent spike in highway traffic deaths, and outlines national and state-level data from 2009 through 2014 collected by the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).

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CDC researchers assessed the nighttime driving risk of drivers ages 16 and 17 years old by reviewing fatal crash data. The study specifically looked for the time frames these fatal events took place to determine whether restricting drive times earlier in the evening could potentially save lives.

Researchers found that drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 accounted for 31% of the fatal crashes occurring between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. Of the 1,865 fatal teen crashes occurring at night, 57% (1,054) of those collisions occurred between 9 p.m. and midnight, indicating teens are more prone to fatal crashes in later hours of the night.

The increased risk of fatal collisions for teens driving at night has been attributed to factors such as inexperience, using their cell phones and being distracted by other passengers or friends accompanying them in the vehicle.

Although all states and the District of Columbia hold some sort of nighttime driving restrictions, with the exception of Vermont, the majority of them have restricted times beginning at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. when it is already dark. The researchers have argued that the statistics indicate earlier drive-time restrictions beginning in the daylight hours could save lives by removing inexperienced teenage drivers off of roads during those times.

Several states have enacted earlier restriction times for teens, such as Kansas, New York, and North Carolina who start their driving restrictions at 9 p.m.

Many states have not adopted these earlier restriction times to accommodate young drivers who work, play sports, or engage in other activities at night. However, states may adopt policies that give exemptions for certain extracurricular activities while maintaining earlier curfews for teens.


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