North Carolina requires teen-agers to practice driving for a full year with a learner’s permit before earning a provisional license which limits driving to daylight hours for the first six months. New drivers can carry only one non-related passenger under 21 to prevent distractions from a car load of friends. Teen-agers also must pass 70 percent of their high school classes.
Since the law went into effect in 1997, accidents are way down for new drivers.
Comparing 1996 with 1999, fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers declined about 60 percent, according to a study by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center. Crashes with no or minor injuries decreased 23 percent over the same period for that age group. Crash rates for 16-year-old drivers continued to drop after 1999, leveling off in late 2003.
Crashes for drives 25 to 54 years old increased by 5.6 percent in the same time period.