Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Looking at the right things

I was really impressed by this study that showed that laws requiring guided driving practice to get a license have reduced car crash fatalities amongst the people who actually participated, but the number of people who waited to apply for a license until they aged out of the requirement (usually at 18) almost cancel out the number of lives saved by introducing the program.  Interestingly, in New Jersey, where the requirement applies to all people under 21, there's a consistent reduction in traffic deaths.

I like this study because it has a broad perspective on what we can say actually "works."  It's hard to get excited about the effects of the program in its current form if basically the same number of people are dying before they get to drinking age.  Dying when you're 19 in't much worse than dying when you're 16. (I have to imagine; I've never died.)

So, the upshot is that guided practice improves the safety of drivers.  I would not have expected such clear-cut results, but then I don't know any teenaged car accident victims.  Thinking about this made me wonder how much it affects fatality rates that young drivers tend to inherit older and less-safe cars.

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