CDC calls for earlier curfew for new teen drivers

WASHINGTON — The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is warning new teen drivers that nothing good happens after 9 p.m.

A new CDC study recommends that curfews for 16- and 17-year-olds with graduated driver's licenses be moved earlier than currently set in most states.

The CDC's research from 2009 to 2014 found 31 percent of teen crashes happened at night. Most crashes, 57 percent, occurred before state-required curfews that typically ranged from 10 p.m.-1 a.m.

“Nine p.m. is a good time to have that cutoff as you're learning to drive because you really want to ease into the driving period,” said Jonathan Adkins, executive director of the Governors Highway Safety Association. “After 9 p.m., alcohol-related crashes are up, drug-related crashes are up. So it’s a good time for new drivers not to be on the road.”

State requirements for graduated driver's licenses typically range from the first six months after passing the test up to the person's 18th birthday.

Adkins said the nighttime driving restrictions for new teen drivers began in the 1990s. He said the curfews are working in that most 16- and 17-year-olds are not out on the road after midnight, but that’s leading to more crashes happening earlier in the night.

He said changing the times is up to state legislatures.

“The states are hesitant to go back again and tinker with the law,” Adkins said. “It’s going be a tough lift in some of the states.”

Despite the state laws, Adkins believes 9 p.m. is a good time for parents to set as a driving curfew. Car crashes are the number one cause of death for teenagers in the United States.