Fewer teens getting driver’s licenses

The easiest way to avoid a car accident is to stay off the road. This appears to be the cause of a reduction in the number of fatal personal injury accidents on Florida’s roadways last year. According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the total number of teen drivers decreased in 2010. There were fewer licensed drivers overall than in 2009. This reduction helped push the number of deaths per mile traveled down to the lowest level since the state began tracking that data.

The question of what is keeping drivers off the roads is a complicated one. Some speculate that fewer teens are obtaining driver’s licenses because of the increase in connectivity through cell phones and the Internet. Teens are less reliant on their cars to meet with friends and maintain their social network. While text messaging poses an obvious danger when drivers split their attention, it may offer some benefit by keeping inexperienced drivers off the road altogether.

Increased gas prices and troubled economic times also may have contributed to the reduction in total number of drivers. Fewer cars and trucks were licensed in 2010, but the number of motorcycles on the road increased as people turn to more inexpensive and fuel efficient modes of travel. The benefit to those who do drive is obvious. Congestion is a prime culprit in fatal accidents. Less crowded roads means a safer environment for drivers.

The 2010 numbers are part of a five year trend in crash reduction. Efforts by lawmakers, safety experts and police have also played a role in making it safer to drive in Florida. Hopefully, the trend will continue and there will fewer people injured or killed in car accidents each year going forward.

Source: The Gainesville Sun, “2010 crash statistics: Fewer drivers lead to fewer wrecks,” by Karen Voyles, September 28, 2011.