We are a Coalition of more than 40 individuals and organizations committed to helping teens leverage the proven principles of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL). We are affiliated with state and local government, law enforcement and public health agencies, traffic safety and injury prevention organizations, academia and businesses. We are also teens, parents and crash victims.
While teen crashes and fatalities continue to fall nationwide, with teen driver fatalities decreasing six percent between 2011 and 2012, our goal is zero -- no crashes, injuries or fatalities. Ensuring teens survive the most dangerous time of their lives is not just the responsibility of parents, law enforcement and school officials, but of every citizen.
Led by Dr. Richard Lichenstein of the American Academy of Pediatrics, our Coalition is working collaboratively to effect change in Maryland. We invite you to learn about our initiatives and to join us. There are no monthly meetings or membership dues; your only obligation is to help spread the word about GDL and safe teen driving.
Please support HB 330. IT will save lives!
February 14, 2017
The Honorable Kumar P. Barve The Honorable Dana M. Stein
Chair Vice Chair
House Environment and Transportation Committee House Environment and Transportation Committee
House Office Building, Room 251 House Office Building, Room 251
6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401 6 Bladen St., Annapolis, MD 21401
Dear Chairman Barve and Vice Chairman Stein:
As representatives of the leading public health and safety organizations, we urge you to support House Bill (HB) 330, legislation to improve safety for novice teen drivers in Maryland. This measure will upgrade the current graduated driver licensing (GDL) law by strengthening the intermediate phase nighttime restriction provision to begin at 10 p.m. instead of the current start time at midnight. This vital change will better protect novice teen drivers in Maryland by reducing their exposure to high risk situations.
The timing of this legislation is critical considering that in 2015, 21 drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 were killed on Maryland roads, a 75 percent increase from 2014. Over the last 10 years (2006-2015), 306 drivers ages 16-20 were killed and nearly 33,000 injured on Maryland roads. According to the Maryland Highway Safety Plan 2017, there are fewer novice drivers, ages 16–20, licensed in Maryland than any other age group and yet their fatality rate is higher than all other age groups. Over 13,000 young-driver-involved crashes occur on Maryland roads each year. It is necessary to expand and strengthen the protections of Maryland’s GDL program to reduce these preventable tragedies.
Studies have found that nighttime driving restrictions reduced crashes among newly licensed teens, with higher reductions associated with nighttime restrictions starting at 10:00 p.m. or earlier. A recent study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which analyzed nighttime restrictions nationwide found that between 2009 – 2014, among 16 and 17 year old drivers, 57 percent of all nighttime crashes occurred before midnight. The study concluded that nighttime restrictions beginning at 12:00 a.m. or later provide minimal protection, and that states should consider updating their nighttime restriction coverage to include earlier nighttime hours.
In addition to saving lives and preventing injuries, GDL laws save states money. Nationally, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates the economic cost of police-reported crashes involving drivers between 15 and 20 years old is $40.8 billion. In Maryland, all motor vehicle crashes cost the state nearly $4.5 billion annually (NHTSA).
Furthermore, the American public overwhelmingly supports GDL programs. An Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) survey found that parents favor GDL laws that are as strict as or even stricter than currently exist in any state. Almost three quarters (74 percent) of teens approve of a comprehensive law that incorporates the key elements of GDL including nighttime and passenger restrictions. In addition to HB 330, we urge you to consider further improving Maryland’s GDL law by raising the age to qualify for a learner’s permit to 16 years, and upgrading the passenger restriction to primary enforcement.
Last June, after the horrific crash that killed three Montgomery County teens, The Baltimore Sun addressed Maryland’s teen driving law and its missing or insufficient components including the nighttime restriction. The piece, Safer teen drivers, noted that it is “unfortunate that a particularly horrible multiple-fatality is required to get lawmakers focused on traffic safety, but a measure of public outrage and a call for accountability seems to be what's necessary,” adding that, “the incremental improvements would surely help — and without much sacrifice on the part of teens or their parents, particularly compared to what's at stake.”
We urge you to support and advance HB 330. Thank you for your consideration.
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
Sobering news from the CDC
Anne Arundel County Health Department
Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety
The Allstate Foundation
Chesapeake Region Safety Council
College of Southern Maryland
Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Elite Driving School
Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (FAAR)
Heather Hurd Memorial Walk
Howard Community College
Howard County Public Schools
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT)
Maryland Highway Safety Office (MHSO)
Maryland State Police (MSP)
Maryland Vehicle Adminstration (MVA)
Montgomery County Law Enforcement
Mt. St. Joseph High School
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)
National Safety Council (NSC)
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB)
Positive Alternatives to Dangerous andDestructive Decisions (PADDD)
Prince George's County Schools
Safe Kids Montgomery County
Safe Kids Washington County
University of Maryland College Park School of Public Health
Inspired by parking permit programs in St. Mary’s and Howard County Public Schools, the Coalition is working to develop a “model” parking permit program with a safe driving message and the ability to be easily adapted to any school in Maryland. Having identified core components of sucessful parking permit programs throughout the United States, this model program will incorporate parent involvement, a parent-teen driving agreement, and a partnership with local law enforcement.
With a mandated number of service learning hours required for all Maryland high school students, the Coalition is working on a service learning project with a safe driving message to be implemented in classrooms across Maryland. With the guidance of the Maryland Department of Education, this project will satisfy student service learning hour requirements once approved.
The Rx for a Safer Teen Driver prescription pads were developed and released in the spring of 2014 in partnership with the American Academy of Pediatrics, and are now being distributed to pediatricians, doctors, and school nurses as a way to remind teens and their parents of GDL laws.
BALTIMORE – Pediatric emergency physicians, safe driving advocates and two restaurant chains are partnering to deliver an important life and death message as teen drivers hit the roads this summer, launching Maryland’s “Practice Driving With Your Teen!” sticker campaign. This is an especially timely issue in light of recent local tragic crashes where several teenagers have died.
The days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are known as “The 100 Deadliest Days” because of the prevalence of vehicle crashes involving teenage drivers during this time.
Between June 17 & 24, 10,000 stickers reading “PRACTICE DRIVING WITH YOUR TEEN. THEY’LL ♥ U LATER.” will be placed on ‘To Go’ takeout bags at all three Miss Shirley’s restaurants (Annapolis, Inner Harbor & Roland Park) & as well as at 18 Greene Turtle restaurants across the state, encouraging adults to spend time practicing safe driving techniques with teen drivers. The sticker (shown below) features a heart graphic sporting a seat belt as the word “love.”
“As soon as schools are out for the summer, more teens will be on the roads,” said Dr. Richard Lichenstein, professor of pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of pediatric emergency medicine research at the University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC), who also serves as chairman of the Maryland Teen Safe Driving Coalition. “We know that the more driving experience that a teen driver has with an adult driver, the less likely it is that they will get in a crash.” The campaign, also supported by the Maryland chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, is modeled after a similar initiative in Texas. The University of Maryland Children’s Hospital is funding the sticker initiative.
“Parents serve not only as driving teachers but also as role models for not texting behind the wheel,” Dr. Lichenstein said, suggesting that parents consider drafting driving agreements with their teen drivers and should also be in control of the car keys.
“Teens don't get into crashes because they are uninformed about the basic rules of the road or safe driving practices; rather, studies show they're involved in crashes as a result of inexperience and risk-taking,” added Dr. Lahila-Carina Ojeda, a pediatric medicine resident at UMMC. “Young drivers have high fatal crash rates because of limited driving experience and immaturity that often results in high-risk behavior behind the wheel.”
According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety (nationwide statistics):
Nearly 60 percent of teen crashes involve distractions behind the wheel.
Teen crash rates are roughly four times higher than those of adult drivers.
In the past five years, more than 5,000 people have been killed in crashes involving teen drivers during the “100 Deadliest Days,” the period starting at Memorial Day when teen crash deaths historically climb.
An average of 1,022 people die annually in crashes involving teen drivers.
Teenage drivers are most at risk for distracted driving-related crashes, as they are avid users of cell phones and other technologies, are inexperienced drivers, and are still undergoing development in areas of the brain responsible for decision-making and risk management.
What is the Graduated Driver Licensing program?
First implemented in Michigan and Florida in the mid-1990s, Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is a three-step system designed to provide novice drivers with the necessary tools to be safe on our roadways and minimize those things that cause them the greatest risk of crash -- distraction caused by passengers and the use of cell phones and other electronic devices, as well as driving late at night and riding unbelted. There is a minimum age for teens to be eligible for a driver's permit, a mandatory holding period or probationary license and a basic or full license.
What does Maryland's GDL program entail?
Young Maryland drivers must:
Be 15 years and 9 months old to obtain a permit
Complete 60 hours of driving - 10 of which must be at night - over the next 9 months before obtaining an intermediate, or restricted, license at age 16 and 6 months
Not drive unsupervised between midnight and 5 a.m. when a teen's crash risk is highest
Not carry any passengers under 18 for the first 5months of the intermediate license phase
Be 18 to obtain a basic, or full, license and have all restrictions lifted
Why does Maryland need a GDL program?
Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens, and teens' crash risk is four times that of an experienced driver. The risk is highest when teens are in the first 12 to 24 months of licensure.
The "License to Save" report issued by The Allstate Foundation in December 2011 estimates that 2,417 people in Maryland have been killed in teen-related motor vehicle crashes since 1991. It also estimates that 90 lives have been saved since Maryland implemented GDL laws. The implementation of GDL programs has saved approximately 14,820 lives nationwide since 1991. It is a proven method to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers.
Why are passengers dangerous for teen drivers?
Most teen crashes involve some form of distraction, and young passengers are a distraction for new drivers. A teen driver is twice as likely to crash while carrying just one passenger, regardless of whether the passenger is a friend of a sibling. Carrying two passengers increases crash risk by 158 percent, and three passengers increases risk by 207 percent.
Why is nighttime driving risky for teen drivers?
Forty percent of all teen driver fatal crashes occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. While Maryland does not allow teens on the roadways after midnight or before 5 a.m., parents are encouraged to set earlier times for their teens to be off the roads.
May teen drivers use hands-free cell phones?
No. Maryland has a complete ban on cell phone use for drivers in the learner's permit and intermediate licensing phases. All drivers in Maryland are prohibited from using a handheld device while driving.
How can I help a teen driver gain more experience?
Research clearly shows that GDL programs are the most effective tool for addressing teen crash risk because they help novice drivers build skill while minimizing risk. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach, older sibling, neighbor or friend, learning about and enforcing the GDL program is important.
Parents in particular play a critical role in teen driver safety. Teens who report having parents that set rules and monitor their activities in a helpful and supportive way are half as likely to crash, 71 percent less likely to drive intoxicated, 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving and 50 percent more likely to wear a safety belt. By partnering with parents, you can help to ensure that they know about and leverage the proven principles of GDL so their teens gain skill and become good drivers for life.