Greater Restrictions Made Official for High-Risk Auto Insurance Group

Teenager behind the wheelBeginning drivers in Michigan now have greater restrictions on when and how they can drive unsupervised.

A bill signed into law on Tuesday affects drivers who are in stage two of the state’s graduated licensing process, allowing them to carry only one passenger under the age of 21 while driving unsupervised and moving up the nighttime driving curfew to 10 p.m. The previous curfew was midnight.

A motorist with a level-two graduated license has had at least six months’ worth of supervised driving. According to Rep. Richard LeBlanc, the average Michigander at this stage in the licensing process is 16.5 years old.

The legislation was written in order to combat the high accident rate among teenage drivers, which has made them a high-risk Michigan auto insurance group.

Although the annual totals of auto deaths involving 16- and 17-year-old Michiganders have been falling in recent years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the numbers remain startling. Between 2004 and 2008, they were involved in 294 fatal crashes in the state. This means that during that period, the chances that a 16- or 17-year-old Michigander being involved in a fatal accident were about a 1-in-5,000.

If studies of these fatal accidents are correct, the greater nighttime-driving and passenger restrictions could help curb the involvement rate.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “Most young drivers’ nighttime fatal crashes occur between 9 p.m. and midnight, so teenagers shouldn’t be driving much later than 9.” And the IIHS also notes that passengers often distract a teen driver and could increase the likelihood of an accident.

A report published in the Journal of Safety Research in 2003 indicated that young drivers’ likelihood of getting into a deadly crash increases significantly with one or more passenger in the car, and that likelihood grows with the number of passengers.

But as insurance provider AAA pointed out in a press release applauding lawmakers for advancing the bill, state legislators cut a provision that would have sought to eliminate another serious distraction for teens — cell phones. Michigan remains part of the majority of states who currently only have bans on text messaging while driving.

Readers can visit the IIHS website to compare Michigan’s nighttime and passenger restrictions with that of other graduated licensing programs around the country.

About Ben Zitney
Benjamin Zitney has been covering the auto insurance industry for the past 2.5 years. Before coming to Online Auto Insurance News, he produced an extensive company history of the 30-year-old California Joint Powers Insurance Authority and worked at the Cal State Long Beach Daily Forty-Niner as a reporter, copy editor and news editor.

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  1. Car Insurance Co. Showcases Driving Simulator at Conference - Online Auto Insurance News - 17. Dec, 2010

    [...] a step forward for Michigan’s youngest drivers, the governor signed into law this week new, stricter requirements for when and under what circumstances a beginning motorist can drive unsupervised. [...]

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