Traffic safety officials are beginning to see the payoff for stricter driving rules in Maryland for new drivers. Since 2009, when the state expanded the time it takes to get a driver’s license, injuries and deaths among Maryland’s teenage drivers have fallen to significantly lower levels.
Statewide car accident statistics comparing crashes involving teens from 2009 to 2010 report that young driver injuries dropped by 17 percent and fatal crashes involving teens fell 25 percent. In 2009, 48 young drivers lost their lives on Maryland roads. In 2010, that number had fallen to 36. Injury accidents numbered more than 5,400 in 2009 and just over 4,500 last year.
The graduated licensing rules in effect for Maryland teenage drivers require a new driver to hold a learner’s permit longer before stepping up to a full license. Now, a person must have a learner’s permit for at least nine months. The state’s General Assembly also extended the time it takes a driver to qualify for a full license by three months.
Passenger restrictions are part of provisional licensing for a new driver’s first five months on the road. Teenagers are only allowed to drive with a family member for the first five months of having a provisional license. They are not allowed to transport friends or anyone under the age of 18, unless that person is a family member.
In order to continue this effort to prevent serious and fatal car accidents, Maryland also recently banned any use of a hand-held cell phone while driving. This measure was tacked onto a previous ban on text messaging and driving.