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Graduated Driving Laws Reduce Teen Accidents

October 21, 2009

By Erika Weisensee
Milwaukie writing mom,

This week is National Teen Driver Safety Week, an appropriate time to review Oregon’s teen driving laws and remember that much can be done to prevent traffic accidents. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. In 2005, twelve teens ages 16 to 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries, according to the CDC. Among teen drivers, those at the highest risk include male drivers, teens driving with other teen passengers, and teens in their first year of driving.

The numbers are startling but much can be done to help teens drive more safely and reduce these statistics. Research shows that graduated licensing (GDL) programs are very effective in reducing fatal and injury crashes for teen drivers, but these laws need to be followed and enforced. Oregon’s GDL laws place several restrictions on drivers under 18.

Specifically, Oregon’s GDL program requires that drivers under 18 hold an Oregon instruction permit for six months prior to applying for a driver’s license. Teens are also prohibited from carrying teen passengers (unless family members) in the car for the first six months, and late night driving is restricted for the first year. For a comprehensive list of Oregon’s GDL laws, visit or check with your insurance company.

Of course, cell phones and texting only increase the risk factor for all drivers. Under the current law (House Bill 2872), drivers under 18 are prohibited from using cell phones while driving, including texting and using hands-free operation of cell phones. As of January 1, 2010, when House Bill 2377 takes effect, cell phone use will be restricted for all Oregon drivers. The law will allow hands-free devices for drivers over 18 years of age only. For more information on House Bill 2377, visit

### Erika Weisensee lives in Milwaukie and teaches writing and communication courses at the University of Portland.

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Discuss this article

Kay October 21, 2009

I think the best requirement was needing to have 80-100 hours of drive time in before a license is granted (those who don’t take pay the big bucks for drivers training). To get in 80 hours you have to do a lot of driving. I sat alongside my boys through two seasons of weather, long-distance and short, in-town and rural. By about the 80th hour I wasn’t even watching what he was doing anymore. Left me very comfortable when he headed off on his own.

Lee October 21, 2009

Great article, calling our attention to something so important. Good opportunity to sit my kids down with a few fact-reality checks once again.

Winnie October 21, 2009

If you do the test right the first time, you will not need graduated testing.

Raise the bar.

LaRayne October 21, 2009

I wish other states would consider having restrictions for teens under 18.

Ally October 21, 2009

It is alarming to see the number of people, of any age, that are still using cell phones and texting while driving. In some cases you can see them smoking or eating, talking on the cell phone and making a turn. Scarry.

Garry October 22, 2009

Thanks for providing the information

qw October 27, 2009

texting while driving is the worst

Pennsylvania Driver Education November 25, 2009

Great Information. Keep posting interesting matters here. Looking forward to it. Thanks and keep it up! All the Best Erika

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