However, a recent telephone survey conducted by researchers at the University of Iowa and the University of North Carolina (UNC) may help save the lives of some Iowa teenage drivers if the results are translated into new laws currently being considered by Iowa lawmakers.
Daniel McGehee, director of the UI Public Policy Center’s Human Factors and Vehicle Safety Research Program and adjunct associate professor in the Colleges of Engineering and Public Health, and UNC colleague Rob Foss, on Jan. 19 presented the results of their survey to members of the Iowa house and senate committees considering a bill (Senate Study Bill SSB3071) that would enhance restrictions to the Iowa graduated drivers license. The September 2009 telephone survey was developed with the UI’s Injury Prevention Research Center.
“When North Carolina passed similar laws about 10 years ago, the North Carolina teen crash rate decreased 38 percent between 1991 and 2004,” McGehee said.
The telephone survey of 1,065 Iowa parents of teen (16 and 17-year-old) drivers in all Iowa counties found overwhelming support for lawmakers’ suggested enhancements. Those changes and the percentage of parental support for each are:
–Banning texting while driving (97 percent).
–Banning cell phone usage while driving (90 percent).
–Moving the nighttime driving limit from 12:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., with an exemption for work and school activities (82 percent).
–Limiting new drivers to no more than one teen passenger, with an exemption for relatives (79 percent).
–Extending the supervised practice period from six to 12 months for the intermediate license (57 percent).
McGehee noted that Iowa is frequently ahead of the curve in many things, and this included graduated driver licensing during the late 1990s. “Since then, however, our system has not kept up with the most recent research that shows these proposed changes can be effective,” he said.
“Iowa crash statistics show that of all deaths caused by inexperienced drivers, the teen driver is the one killed in 40 percent of crashes, and a passenger is the one killed in 30 percent of cases. The remaining deaths are other road-users who are killed by the teen driver,” McGehee said.
He added that making selected changes to the Iowa graduated drivers’ license system will provide more time for young drivers to practice for a full calendar year in all weather conditions. “Limiting cell phone usage and auto passengers will help minimize distraction during the most dangerous time — the first year — of driving,” he said.
STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa News Services, 300 Plaza Centre One, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-2500
MEDIA CONTACT: Gary Galluzzo, writer, 319-384-0009, firstname.lastname@example.org