Sixteen years age limit for learner drivers in Sweden--an evaluation of safety effects

Accid Anal Prev. 2000 Jan;32(1):25-35. doi: 10.1016/s0001-4575(99)00045-7.


Through a reform implemented in Sweden, September 1993, the age limit for practising car driving was lowered from 17 1/2 to 16 years while the licensing age remained 18. The purpose of lowering the age limit was to give the learner drivers an opportunity to acquire more experience as drivers before being allowed to drive on their own. The primary aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of the reform in terms of accident involvement and data were therefore obtained from the national register of police reported accidents. The results show that after the reform there was a general reduction in the accident risk (accidents per 10 million km) of novice drivers with approximately 15%. Additional analyses show that the reduction of accident risk in the group who utilised the new age limit was approximately 40%, whereas those who did not utilise the prolonged training period did not benefit at all. Between 45 and 50% of the age population were found to utilise the reform. The accident reduction does not seem to be just an initial first year effect since the results were similar over 3 years of novice drivers during their first 2 years with a licence. These results suggest that the reform has been beneficial for the safety of novice drivers in Sweden. The results also suggest a potential for additional safety improvements if more young learner drivers can be brought to utilise the low age limit.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / statistics & numerical data*
  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Male
  • Risk
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sweden