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Monday, May 24, 2010

National Program for Graduated Driver Licensing

According to Center for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, accounting for more than one in three deaths in this age group. Statistics show that teen drivers aged 16-19 are four times more likely to get into a car accident. These statistics are the basis of a new push by lawmakers to establish national graduated drivers license (GDL) program.

Graduated Drivers license laws are nothing new. In the 1990’s states began to enact GDL laws. The goal of a GDL program is to let a young driver safely gain driving experience before being granted full driving privileges.

One of the reasons for a national GDL program is that fact that GDL laws differ from state to state.

A national GDL law has three main points.

  • Adopting a three-stage process to acquire an unrestricted drivers license.

  • Prohibiting unsupervised nighttime driving during the first two stages before an unrestricted drivers license.

  • Prohibit non-emergency use of cell phones and other electronic devices during the first two license phases.

Presently there are great differences in GDL laws from state to state. In comparing the states of Georgia and Florida gdl laws there are many similarities on minimum learners permit age, holding period and supervised training. However, while Georgia’s GDL Laws include passenger restrictions until the new driver turns 18 years old, Florida has not implemented those requirements.

For Florida a teen can get their learner’s permit at age 15 as opposed to New Jersey where the learners permit age is 16 years old. Another great difference between Florida and New Jersey is the amount of supervised driving practice.

  • In Florida a learning driver is required to have 50 hours of supervised driving with ten of those hours to be at night.

  • In New Jersey there is no minimum amount of practice time required.

Even though there is a proposal to introduce a national GDL law for minimum age requirements, length of time between each phase or passenger restrictions, one of the most important aspects to a GDL program is the supervised driving experience or driver training to gain experience. Many states are proposing additional driver education through a basic driver improvement or defensive driving course as many states no longer have the budget for driver education resources.

When considering Graduated Driver Licensing programs there is much more than the 3 points to consider for new drivers. With the laws so different for each state, most will agree the goal of a national program is driver safety and education first.

Learn more about your states GDL Laws at the Governors Highway Safety Association.

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