Graduated Driver Licensing: What it is and What it Does

Teen driving accidents continue to concern parents and lawmakers around the country, but steps are being taken in many areas to reduce risks for teen drivers. One of the biggest trends is Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL), which allows driving privileges to be introduced to teens on a more gradual level. This practice has taken off, and today, all 50 states have some sort of GDL program in place.

What is GDL?
Graduated Driver Licensing is a program that slowly introduces new privileges to teen drivers as they accumulate more experience behind the wheel. The first phase gives the teen driving experience under the supervision of a licensed adult. The second phase allows the new driver to drive alone, but with very specific restrictions. The third phase lifts those restrictions, enabling the teen driver to enjoy all the same freedoms as an adult driver.

Objectives of GDL
GDL programs were put in place in an effort to achieve a number of objectives, including:

  • Providing new drivers with ample learning time and experience to become comfortable behind the wheel
  • Minimizing accident risk by giving drivers sufficient experience in low-risk conditions before allowing them to drive in more dangerous situations
  • Ample practice time to allow new drivers to hone their skills to handle a wide range of driving conditions
  • Motivation for safe driving by extending privileges to careful drivers and reducing privileges to those who drive recklessly

While the specifics of a GDL program may vary slightly from state to state, the primary objectives of the program remain the same. By providing student drivers with additional practice, experience and incentive to maintain safe driving habits, the hope is that states can reduce the number of accidents involving teen drivers, making the roads safer for everyone.

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