In This Issue

Graduated Driver Licensing: Keeping Teens Safe

March 30, 2009
By Matt Hubert

Teens are statistically the most dangerous drivers on the road. From cell phones and loud music to teenage passengers and unbuckled seatbelts, numerous distractions contribute to crashes among young inexperienced drivers. According to the Insurance Information Institute’s 2006 data, more than 57 percent of drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 are involved in motor vehicle accidents. A program called Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is helping reduce that number.

As a three-phase process, GDL ensures that teen drivers gain valuable experience before earning full licenses. States that have adopted elements of graduated licensing have found crash reductions of approximately 10-30 percent.

Erie Insurance’s role in GDL

Erie Insurance supports GDL in all of its territories. The company was influential in bringing GDL to Virginia. With the support of Erie Insurance, a group of Agents began a grassroots effort in Virginia where they worked with policyholders, legislators and other insurance companies to get GDL legislation passed into law. The legislation went into effect in July 2001.

Paul Chadowski of Chadowski Insurance Agency in Fairfax, Va., helped spearhead the cause.

“It was just a great effort between Erie Insurance and us,” he said. “We were definitely on the same page. We knew this was right, and ERIE gave me free reign and great people to work with.”

Chadowski, the father of a teen driver himself, says there’s another, residual benefit of GDL.

“As parents, we set the guidelines, but we are thankful to get a little help from the law,” he says. “With GDL in place, we can say, ‘Sorry, you can’t get your license until then.’”

How programs compare

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) rates the GDL programs in all 50 states. According to their standards, no state has an optimal GDL program in place as of 2008.

IIHS uses a point system to score the states for the seven components of a GDL system. A state can earn one point in each of the following categories:

  • Learner’s entry age
  • Learner’s holding period
  • Practice driving certification
  • Night driving restriction
  • Passenger restriction
  • Driver education
  • Duration of restrictions

States scoring a total of 6 or more points are rated “Good.” States scoring 4-5 points are rated “Fair.” States scoring 2-3 points are rated “Marginal.” And states that score 0-1 point are rated “Poor.”

GDL ratings for Erie Insurance’s Territories as of September 2008:

  • Good: District of Columbia, Illinois, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and Wisconsin
  • Fair: Indiana, West Virginia

Visit http://www.iihs.org/laws/graduatedLicenseIntro.aspx for detailed information about each state’s GDL rating.


Matt Hubert is a freelance writer from Erie, Pa. His writing has been featured in publications such as the Erie Times-News and FaithLife News Bulletin.

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