Online Program

Impact of the Graduated Driver Licensing Law in Massachusetts Citations and Licensing in Teen Drivers

Monday, November 2, 2015

Christopher DePesa, RN, MS, Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA
Toby Raybould, MS, Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care
Jarone Lee, MD, MPH, Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care
Shelley Hurwitz, PhD, Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School
Alice Gervasini, PhD, RN, Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care
Peter Masiakos, MD, Department of Pediatric Surgery
Haytham Kaafarani, MD, MPH, Division of Trauma, Emergency Surgery, and Surgical Critical Care
Background/Purpose: We recently showed that the 2007 Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law in Massachusetts decreased the rates of motor vehicle crashes in teenage drivers.  To better understand its mechanism of action, we sought to examine how GDL affected the issuance of driving licenses and traffic citations to teenage drivers.

Methods: Citation and license data were obtained from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.  Census data were obtained from the Census Data Center.  Two study periods were defined: preGDL (2002-2006) and postGDL (2007-2012).  The numbers of total, state, and local citations, as well as licenses issued, per population were compared pre vs. postGDL for the study population (aged 16-17) vs. control population (aged 25-29). 

Results/Outcomes: While licenses per population obtained by the study group decreased over the entire period, there was no change in the rate pre vs. post-GDL (2.0% vs. 1.4%; p=0.6392).  In the study population, total, state, and local citations decreased post-GDL (17.8% vs. 8.1%, p<0.0001; 3.7% vs. 2.2%, p<0.0001; 14.1% vs. 5.8%, p<0.0001, respectively).  In the control group, total and state citations did not change (26.7% vs. 23.9%, p=0.3606; 9.2% vs. 10.2%, p=0.3404, respectively), and local citations decreased (17.5% vs. 13.7%, p=0.0389).  The rate decreases for all citation types were significantly greater in the study population compared with control (p<0.0001, p=0.0002, p<0.0001, respectively).

Conclusions: The Massachusetts GDL law was associated with decreased traffic citations without a change in licenses issued to teenagers.  This suggests GDL works mostly by improving driving habits rather than simply delaying licensure.

Learning Areas:

Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Explain the effect of the 2007 Junior Operator Law in Massachusetts. Analyze the impact of the law, specifically on the numbers of citations and licenses issued to junior operators before and after the law.

Keyword(s): Violence & Injury Prevention, Health Law

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the Trauma Nurse Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital who is actively involved in the prevention of traumatic death and injuries, specifically focusing on local, vulnerable populations. I am a member of a team that is focused on injury prevention and community outreach that has already published on the effect of laws on the population at large.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.