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Directions in Highway Safety Cover - Summer 2012 Download Newsletter pdf
[2.2 MB, 12 pgs.]

Summer 2012

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Does Supervised Driving Make a Difference for New Drivers?

A new study co nducted by the Center for the Study of Young Drivers (CSYD) at the University of North Carolina’s Highway Safety Research Center looks at the effects of supervised driving requirements for beginning drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published the study results in March in a report entitled “The Role of Supervised Driving Requirements in a Graduated Driver Licensing Program.”

The Role of Supervised Driving Requirements in a Graduated Driver Licensing Program cover
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Under most states’ Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs, drivers in the initial learner stage must complete a certain amount of supervised driving practice – often 40 to 50 hours – before they obtain a probationary license. Researchers concluded that requiring a specific number of supervised driving hours during has not have a substantial effect on teen crashes.

Researchers discovered that many parents were not even aware of the supervised driving requirements, and interviews with driver licensing bureau employees suggest that licensing officials may not be clearly communicating the supervised driving practice requirement to parents. Therefore, compliance with the supervised driving may be low and may help explain why the study found no effect of these requirements on young driver crashes.

As CSYD Director Rob Foss notes, “Parents play an indispensable role in helping their children get the large amount of practical driving experience needed to develop the cognitive skills essential to safe driving … this study suggest[s] that states’ efforts to convey this point to parents, by requiring a fixed amount of driving, have not produced their intended result.”

To enhance the GDL process, the report recommends improvements in communications with parents and novice drivers about supervised driving requirements, guidance to parents about the best techniques to provide supervision, and tracking actual hours and conditions of supervised driving.

Download the complete report from NHTSA’s website at