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Governor Perdue Announces Drop in Teen Driving Fatalities

Tuesday, March 22, 2005  Contact: Office of Communications 404-651-7774


Emory Study Credits GA Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act for drop in teen deaths

ATLANTA – Governor Sonny Perdue announced today that a new Emory University study shows the number of 16-year-old drivers killed in speed-related crashes has dropped by nearly fifty percent in Georgia. The study credits Georgia’s Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) for a five year steady decline in teen driver fatalities. The study indicates that in addition to reducing the number of speed-related teen fatalities in Georgia, TADRA has reduced the overall rate of fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers by 37 percent.

“I’m greatly encouraged that since the enactment of TADRA in 1997, we’ve seen 16-year-old driver fatalities go down in Georgia,” said Governor Sonny Perdue. “While even one teen driver death is too many, this study shows positive results from Georgia’s Graduated Driver License laws.”

In 1997 the state of Georgia enacted TADRA, which establishes graduated driver licensing for Georgians between the ages of 15 to 18, with three classifications. Georgia’s TADRA law was strengthened in 2001.

According to Georgia’s TADRA law, the first classification is an instruction permit, granted to 15-year-olds upon passage of a written examination. While driving, the teen must be accompanied by a licensed adult who is 21 or older. Next is the intermediate license, granted to drivers between 16 and 18 who have passed a comprehensive road driving test. The intermediate license restricts teen drivers from driving between 12:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m., and allows only family as passengers for the first six months. After the initial six months driving with only family members, the teen driver cannot operate a vehicle with more than three other non-family member passengers under age 21. The final classification is a full license for drivers 18 or older, which is granted only if the teen driver has had no major traffic convictions for the previous 12 months.

“This study shows parents, law makers, law enforcement, and most importantly, young drivers working together can reduce teen driving deaths in Georgia,” said Bob Dallas, director of the Governor’s Office of Highways Safety (GOHS).

The study, authored by Dr. Arthur Kellerman of Emory University, concludes that the net impact of Georgia’s Graduated Driver License (GDL) law has been greater than any other state with a GDL law. “Statistics show that several hundred potentially fatal crashes were prevented during the first five-and-a-half years after TADRA became law,” Dr. Kellerman said.

GOHS Director Dallas said highway safety experts have identified key high risk factors involved in most fatal crashes with 16-year-old drivers. The most common include speeding, inexperienced travel at night and passenger-related driver distraction.

“That’s why Georgia’s Graduated Driver License law requires three licensing stages,” said Dallas. “TADRA requires an intense educational process with limits on unsupervised driving at night, limits on the number of teenage passengers a beginning driver can transport, and limits on unsupervised driving in high risk situations for intermediate drivers.”

“Only then does TADRA grant expanded privileges for young drivers after successful completion of the first two stages and passing a state administered driver test,” said Dallas. The Georgia law also provides for suspension of teen licenses as penalty for engaging in risky driving behaviors such as excessive speed and impaired driving.

During the press conference, Governor Perdue offered four simple life-saving tips for teens behind the wheel. Don’t drive above posted speed limits; Don’t drive impaired by drugs or alcohol; Don’t drive distracted by cell phones, loud music, or friends and DO wear your safety belt and insist that all your passengers wear theirs too.