Could Small Policy Shifts Lead to a Radical Decrease in Teenage Auto Accidents in North Carolina and Beyond?

August 14, 2012, by Michael A. DeMayo

A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — published in the scarily named journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly — has found that young drivers, between the ages of 15 and 24, account for nearly a quarter of all motor vehicle deaths on US roads every year.

Why are young drivers inherently more at risk for fatal North Carolina car crashes?

Young drivers lack experience, and they are inherently more prone to taking risks. This combines to create the deadly cocktail.

There is a bright side, however, to the research.

Licensing processes gradually allow teenage drivers to acclimate to their responsibilities — these processes may be able to reduce car crash risk by 16% or more, according to some data. In other words, when you put new teenage drivers through a process — like forcing them to drive with a permit or drive with an adult before “graduating” to greater driving independence — this somehow prevents drivers from getting into as many car crashes.

Looking for success stories, and then combining them.

Let just say that the research turns out to be correct – that, when you train teen drivers correctly, you reduce their risk of accidents.

One then might ask some questions:

•    What other accident prevention methods seem to work in the real world?
•    For instance, does positive peer pressure (e.g. social pressure designed to that nudges peers towards safer behavior) lead to lower accident rates?
•    What about town wide curfews?
•    What about cell phone bans?
•    What about other laws, restrictions, and sentences and rewards?

If we cast a wide net, we might find that a variety of programs seem to have some success at reducing accident rates in different contexts. It would be interesting if we could gather the most seemingly effective of these policies and bundle them into one kind of “uber policy” designed to maximize safety among teen drivers.

In other words, say that positive peer pressure, having a curfew, and using a gradual driver’s ed system all reduce teen fatalities a little bit. What if you bundled these activities into one process? Would we be able to limit accidents by an even larger margin? If so, that kind of creative thinking could seriously save lives and reduce injuries.

If you’ve already been hurt in an accident – or someone you love has been hurt – the team at the Law Offices of Michael A. DeMayo would be happy to talk to you about your potential legal options for getting justice done and obtaining compensation.


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