GDL Laws

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Programs

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs help first time drivers get driving experience progressively while minimizing risk, beginning with a restricted permit and eventually leading to full licensure. Most programs include three stages:

  • Learner Stage: Supervised driving, ending with a road test
  • Intermediate Stage: Limiting unsupervised driving in high-risk circumstances
  • Full Privilege Stage: A regular driver's license

Provisions of graduated licensing laws may include:

  • Required hours of adult supervision during the learner stage
  • Restrictions on late-night driving
  • Restrictions on driving with teen passengers
  • Seat belt requirements for drivers and passengers
  • Restrictions on cellular phone use
  • Prohibiting the driver from moving up to the next level due to traffic violations

Benefits of GDL Laws:

GDL laws exist because statistically, teens get into many more crashes than adult drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sixteen-year old drivers have crash rates that are about three times greater than 17-year-old drivers, five times greater than 18-year-old drivers, and approximately twice the rate of 85-year-old drivers. We know that GDL laws work, because there has been an overall decrease in fatal crashes involving teens nationally since GDL laws began to be implemented.

Specific restrictions have also been found to be effective; for example, an NHTSA study found that states with nighttime driving restrictions for teen drivers show decreases in crashes of up to 60% during the restricted hours. GDL laws work because they help teens increase their driving skills while minimizing the risks of being on the road with limited experience.