Community-Level Policy

Policy approaches have a number of advantages. Policies can reach large numbers of teen drivers. They can be implemented at little (or no) cost. Unlike educational programs, once a policy is implemented, it doesn’t need to be repeated over time. Statewide policies such as GDL reach every teen driver in North Carolina. However, community-level policies can also improve safety for a substantial number of teens.

Closed Campus Lunch Policies at High Schools

Teen driver crashes increase during the lunch hour as students rush home or elsewhere to eat. These trips often involve several teen passengers. Requiring students to remain on campus during the lunch hour can help eliminate this risky driving. A study conducted in North Carolina showed that teen driver crashes between noon and 2 p.m. were higher in two counties with open-lunch policies (Orange and Alamance) compared to a county with closed campuses at lunch (Pitt).

School Start Times

Young drivers (under age 25) are much more likely than adults to be involved in drowsy-driving crashes. Teens have different sleep patterns and needs than adults. They naturally begin to fall asleep later, so they need to sleep longer in the mornings in order to obtain sufficient rest. A promising approach to reducing drowsy driving crashes is to move school start times to a later hour, such as 8:45–9:00 a.m. rather than 7:30–8:00 a.m. Only a few studies have examined the relationship between school start times and teen driver crashes, and the results have been mixed. However, this represents a relatively simple approach that carries additional benefits (e.g., improved school performance for teens).