Arkansas Center for Health Improvement

Graduated Driver’s Licenses

ACHI and its colleagues at the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital,  the Arkansas State Police Highway Safety Office and the Arkansas Department of Health released evidence showing that the rate of crashes for teen drivers in Arkansas was much higher than the rate for adults over a 6-year period, with approximately 19 percent of licensed 16-year-old drivers crashing compared to less than 8 percent of 25-year-old drivers. Fatality rates for drivers aged 16–19 years were 4 times higher than drivers aged 25–69. Thanks to the efforts of ACHI and many injury prevention advocates, the states laws restricting teen drivers were strengthened in 2009 to provide further protection to teen drivers.

The state has had a graduated driver’s license (GDL) law in some form since 2001. The graduated driver’s license has three levels—a learner’s license (14 yr), an intermediate (16 yr), and regular (18 yr) license. Arkansans are not eligible for a regular license until they turn 18.

Arkansas Act 394 of 2009 expanded restrictions in the state’s licensing law for teenage drivers. Act 394 restricts drivers under the age of 18 from driving between 11 pm and 5 am, except when coming home from a school function, work, or during an emergency. Carrying more than one minor as a passenger, unless they are relatives or accompanied by an adult, is also banned. Cell phones and other interactive wireless communication devices cannot be used while driving during any GDL stage. For those drivers with hardship licenses, nighttime driving, passenger, and cell phone use restrictions still apply.

In 2012, ACHI in partnership with the Injury Prevention Center at Arkansas Children's Hospital completed an analysis of the impact of GDL on vehicle crashes and fatalities. One highlight of the report's findings reveals that an estimated 32 lives were saved in 2010 due to the GDL law in combination with other injury prevention measures. There was also a 22% reduction in crashes for 16 year old drivers, a 59% reduction in fatalities involving teen drivers and a 76% reduction in fatalities involving teen drivers during the hours of 11 pm to 4 pm.

A continued evaluation of the Arkansas Graduated Driver License conducted by ACHI in 2014 shows similar reductions, especially in the number of fatal crashes which dropped by 57.5 percent.


Resources

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Fact Sheet
News Release
» GDL News Release (PDF)

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Arkansas Center for Health Improvement
1401 West Capitol
Suite 300 (Victory Building)
Little Rock, AR 72201