Effects of the California graduated driver licensing program.
PROBLEM: On July 1, 1998, in an effort to ameliorate the problem of high teenage driver crash rates, California implemented a graduated driver licensing system (GDLS). METHOD: Data on injury crashes of 16- and 17-year-old drivers from a pre-GDLS year were compared with data from two post-GDLS years. Per-capita crash rate ratios were adjusted for changes in crash rates of 25- to 34-year-old drivers, who were unaffected by the GDLS. Prevented numbers and 95% confidence intervals were estimated. RESULTS: Fatal or severe injury crash rates were significantly lower during each of the two post-GDLS years (adjusted rate ratios (RR)=0.72 and 0.83, for 2000 vs. 1997 and 2001 vs. 1997, respectively). Significant rate reductions were observed for all crash types, particularly for struck object (RR=0.71 and 0.80, for 2000 vs. 1997 and 2001 vs. 1997, respectively) and non-collision (RR=0.63 and 0.72, for 2000 vs. 1997 and 2001 vs. 1997, respectively). Minor injury crash rates were also lower during post-GDLS years (RR=0.87 and 0.90, for 2000 vs. 1997 and 2001 vs. 1997, respectively). Percent reductions were notably larger during the hours of the late night driving restriction (midnight-5 a.m.) (RR=0.79 and 0.87, for 2000 vs. 1997 and 2001 vs. 1997, respectively). SUMMARY: The implementation of the California GDLS was followed by large reductions in the rate of injury-producing motor-vehicle crashes. IMPACT ON INDUSTRY: This evaluation supports previous evidence that GDLS is an effective countermeasure to adolescent motor-vehicle crashes and their associated injuries. States with a traditional licensing system may prevent adolescent driver crashes by adopting a GDLS. Future studies should examine factors that influence teenager compliance with GDLS provisions and identify approaches to improving compliance.