Novice Drivers

Novice Drivers


In this activity, you'll explore the social trade-offs involved with graduated driver licensing programs.


Problem-solving decisions that societies make inevitably involve trade-offs, that is, the giving up of certain benefits in order to obtain other, more desirable benefits. Just such a trade-off is made in graduated driver licensing programs: the privileges of new drivers are restricted in order to obtain a reduction in accidents caused by inexperience.

To learn more about young driver risk and the graduated licensing programs that states have developed, consult these three resources:

  • Fatality Facts 2005: Teenagers was prepared by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) based on an analysis of data from the U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS). Read the two-paragraph introduction and scan the charts and graphs to get a sense of the research documenting young driver risk. Focus in on at least one chart or graph so you are prepared to refer to it when contributing to a later discussion.
  • Graduated Licensing: A Blueprint for North America provides background on the rationale for graduated licensing and information on the scientific studies that have shown correlations between novice driving and accidents and between graduated licensing programs and accident reduction. Notice as you read that research has helped policymakers determine the benefits and costs of various features in graduated licensing programs.
  • Graduated Driver Licensing Programs and Fatal Crashes of 16-Year-Old Drivers: A National Evaluation is a a retrospective study of all 16-year-old drivers involved in fatal crashes in the United States from 1994 through 2004 using data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System and the US Census Bureau. The research was published in the journal Pediatrics.

Refer to the second resource (the excerpted version of “Blueprint”) to complete page 1 of the Novice Drivers student sheet. You also may come up with additional cost-benefit considerations besides the ones you find in the article.

Finally, study the table, U.S. Licensing Systems for Young Drivers. Use page 2 of the student sheet to record information about the licensing requirements in your own state compared to optimal requirements for graduated licensing as defined by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Knowledge Check

As homework, write a five-paragraph essay in support of or against your state’s license program. Make use of the information you collected in the Novice Drivers student sheet, and use the Novice Drivers Essay and Presentation Rubrics to guide your writing.

Alternatively, prepare a three-minute presentation on one of the graphs from the resource Fatality Facts 2005: Teenagers or from some other resource. Refer to the rubric to guide your presentation.

This esheet is a part of the Novice Drivers lesson.

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