Driving curfews actually work, according to new study.
If you’re looking for creative ways to keep your teenagers safe and out of trouble, it may be as simple as driving curfews. As my teenagers would say—duh.
Most of us came of age in an era where teenage driver’s licenses were issued without additional restrictions. Those days, like baby-doll dresses and Doc Martens, are mostly behind us now, and the majority of states now have specialized requirements for teenage drivers. Our teenagers will show off shiny new teen driver’s licenses (bad license photos included!) that come with restrictions that gradually phase out as they get older and are on the road longer. These limitations on teen driving privileges include things like night-time curfews and restrictions on the number of passengers they can drive around town.
Teen driving restrictions are based on good old-fashioned common sense, but there’s plenty of objective evidence to back them up. Teen drivers get into more accidents when they pile into cars together in large groups, and late-night driving carries additional risks for new drivers. But a new study suggests that teen driving curfews may even help kids stay out of jail for non-driving related offenses.
Researchers at the University of Texas at Dallas found that when teens have driving curfews, their arrests for non-vehicular crimes like larceny and aggravated assault fall, too. These declines are most pronounced in states with restrictions that last the longest, suggesting that even older teens benefit from limitations on their driving privileges. It’s hard for opportunity to knock when you’re sitting in your pajamas on the couch texting your friends all night, and when teens aren’t able to drive at night, they spend more evenings at home.
This news shouldn’t be shocking to parents of teenagers (or anyone who has ever been a teenager). It’s hard enough for teens to make good choices in the best of circumstances, but it’s even more challenging when you add in unfettered access to a car or large groups of their peers. It makes sense that teens do best with graduated access to full driving privileges, and that limiting their access to vehicular freedom helps them be more responsible drivers. Still, most parents probably never considered that night-time driving curfews can actually keep their kids out of jail.
Forty-eight states already have teen night-time driving curfews, but their age limits and length of time vary. For parents in states with less stringent laws, imposing your own curfew is a good way to keep your teenagers safe and out of trouble. While it’s nice to have a law to blame instead of your own rules, it’s more important for teenagers to be safe than to appreciate your concern.
As long as teens live at home, regardless of their age, parents need to monitor their driving habits. A night-time driving curfew may seem like overkill, but science says otherwise.