Helping the Injured in Tennessee Since 1977

Part 2: Teen driving laws in Tennessee meant to prevent accidents

In our last post we broke down some of the different regulations and restrictions that are part of the graduated drivers licensing program in Tennessee. These rules, while at times frustrating for teen drivers, are meant to encourage safe driving by easing novice drivers into full driving privileges.

Previous AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety research has found a decrease in fatal accidents and injury accidents among 16-year-olds in states that have graduated drivers licensing programs. This is why it is particularly troubling to learn that many teens are waiting to get their licenses until they turn 18. Those drivers who wait until the age of 18 are then missing out on the learning opportunities afforded by the graduated drivers licensing three-tiered system.

The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety surveyed 1,039 drivers between the ages of 18 and 20. The survey found less than half received driver's licenses within the first year of the minimum age for licensing in their state. In addition to many not getting their driver's licenses when first able to, only a little more than half actually had a driver's license by the time of their 18th birthday.

The reasons for waiting vary, with many focusing around money. According to the survey, in listing reasons why they waited, 36 percent said gas was too expensive and 36 percent said driving was too expensive. Another 44 percent said they did not have a car, so they delayed getting a driver's license.

Among other reasons, 39 percent also found a car unnecessary as they could get around without driving and 35 percent said they simply did not get around to getting a license before the age of 18. Clearly, it was just not a priority for them.

Waiting to get a driver's license is also a rather new trend, as research shows that two decades ago more than two-thirds of teens had driver's licenses by the time they turned 18.

Overall though, there is a silver-lining in this survey's results: The restrictions are not what are leading most to put off getting a driver's license. This means that there still may be ways to incorporate more driving experience into current driving laws.


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