Students Mourn Victims of Indiana Teen Car Accident – GDL Programs Proven Faulty

Students in Vigo County are mourning the death of a classmate who recently died from injuries sustained in an Indiana teen car accident. The collision happened when the vehicle of the teen driver and her two passengers drifted into the path of another vehicle while traveling along State Highway 246. The two passengers remain in the hospital.

“She was a great art student she was really creative. I will always remember her smile and enthusiasm. It was her goal to get it done, she was going to graduate,” said Christy Eileen, an art teacher at McLean High School, according to a WTHI Channel 10 report. The students and the faculty made posters and crafts to display at the student’s funeral, the report stated.
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Our Indianapolis car accident attorneys understand the risks that young drivers face on our roadways. Newly-licensed drivers possess much less driving experience than older drivers and are usually unable to properly judge the hazards and dangers on our roadways. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, young drivers in our state are required to complete two stages of restricted driving, or a Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program, before receiving an unrestricted license once they’ve reached the age of 18. Unfortunately, recent studies illustrate that these GDL programs aren’t as effective as one thought. Studies conclude that drivers who have completed the program are at more of a risk for an accident once they receive a full license than they faced in the program. Parents and guardians need to understand that our job doesn’t stop once they’ve received an unrestricted license. Education and reminders need to continue long after our young drivers are out of school.

GDL programs first started in 1996 and according to a recent study that was printed in the Journal of the American Medical Association, 16-year-old drivers witnessed a 26 percent decrease in the rate of fatal accidents from 1986 to 2007. But, during this same time period, 18-year-old drivers experienced an increase of more than 10 percent in the number of fatal accidents. This increase in the older teen drivers completely wiped out any progress in the death rate for all teen drivers, according to CNN Health.

The GDL program in Indiana started back in July 2009. Through this program, 16- and 17-year-old drivers are under probationary restrictions until they reach the age of 18. These stages in the program are meant to expose young drivers to potential hazards gradually instead of overwhelming them with everything at once. Once they’ve mastered a level of driving, they’re permitted to move on to the next stage.

“Right now, we’re not getting the net effect across all teens that we’re hoping for,” says Scott V. Masten, Ph.D., author of the recent study cited in the JAMA article.

Experts believe that 18-year-old drivers are experiencing more fatal traffic accidents because youngsters are choosing to opt out of the restricted driving privileges and are avoiding driving until they’re 18. Others believe that younger drivers are at more of a risk after completing the program because they’re forced to miss out on valuable experience, meaning they’ve been coddled throughout the learning process.

The study reveals that no one is guaranteed to avoid a car accident, regardless of education. Parents are urged to continue to remind their young drivers about the responsibility and dangers of driving. No one is ever too old or too smart for a better driving education.

If you or your teen has been in a car accident, call Burton Padove for a free consultation to learn about how to ensure receipt for financial compensation for injuries you or others sustain at 219-836-2200 or 877-446-5294 for nationwide callers.

Additional Resources:

McLean HS students remember teen killed in car crash, by Brittany Earl, WTHI 10
Teen restrictions fail to curb fatal crashes, by Amanda Gardner, CNN Health
More Blog Entries:

Teen Drivers Hit the Road this School Year Increasing Risks for Car Accidents in Indiana for Everyone
, Indiana Injury And Family Lawyer Blog, August 27, 2011

Students Head Back to School and Risks of School Bus Accidents in Indiana Increase this August, Indiana Injury And Family Lawyer Blog, August 15, 2011