Researchers from the Texas Transportation Institute announced the findings of a case study on February 17 in Garland, Texas.
The researchers reviewed driver behavior and crash statistics in Garland and Mesquite during two periods: from 2002 through 2005, and 2006 through 2009. While both cities experienced improvements during the study period, those in Garland were more dramatic:
- The number of teen crash fatalities in Garland dropped from 9 to 1. The number in Mesquite fell from 4 to 2.
- The percentage of all crashes that involved a teen driver in Garland dropped from 28 percent to 16 percent. In Mesquite, that percentage fell from 24 percent to 22 percent.
- In addition, Garland teens also demonstrated higher seat belt use and lower cell phone use behind the wheel than their counterparts in Mesquite.
Researchers attribute the improvements to a combination of two factors: the state’s graduated driver license law – which places restrictions on drivers for the first year that they hold a license – and the Teens in the Driver Seat program, which is designed to reinforce the GDL law through peer influence. The Teens in the Driver Seat® program has been active in all of Garland’s seven high schools since 2006, whereas the program is not active in Mesquite.
“The GDL law gives us an essential foundation,” said State Rep. Joe Driver, one of the original authors of the law. “But the law can be made more effective by creative efforts like Teens in the Driver Seat. Together, they give us a one-two punch that works very well.”