Graduated Driver Licensing Programs Benefit Teen Drivers

I can clearly remember how eager I was to turn 16 and get my learner’s permit. I was one step closer to driving, a privilege that I equated to freedom.

I quickly learned that the driver licensing process wasn’t all fun. I used to get annoyed by my curfew and my parents’ refusal to let me take more than one friend in the car. As it turns out, these precautions really were in everyone’s best interest.

First time behind the wheel

Research shows that teen drivers are much more likely to take risks behind the wheel and have accidents than seasoned drivers.

For example, consider this: New teen drivers have three times more accidents than drivers 20 and older. And adding two or more passengers to a teen driver’s vehicle increases the risk of crashing by 88 percent.

Sobering statistics like these led some states to implement new licensing measures. Just one is Graduated Driver Licensing Programs (GDLs). GDLs impose stricter regulations on all aspects of a teen licensing process in hopes of curbing teen driving accidents.

The program is split into three stages: the learner stage, the intermediate stage and the full privilege stage.

The learner stage

This process starts when a teen receives her permit and ends when she is eligible to take the driver’s license test. In some states, a new driver can apply for a permit as early as age 14.

Many states also require teens to hold their permits for at least six months and to complete a certain number of supervised driving hours before they can take their state’s driver’s license test.

The intermediate stage

Once a teen driver obtains her license, she enters the intermediate stage. She remains at this stage until she reaches a certain age, which varies by state.

Drivers at the intermediate stage have restrictions about the times of day they can drive and how many passengers can be in their car. Currently, all states besides Vermont have restrictions on nighttime driving. All but three states (Florida, Mississippi and South Dakota) have restrictions on the number of passengers a newly licensed driver may have in their vehicle. Some states stipulate that new drivers may not have more than one passenger.

Once a driver satisfies the requirements of her state’s intermediate stage, she becomes a fully licensed driver who has all the privileges of a regular driver in her state.

Graduated Driver Licensing Programs at work

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) created an interactive GDL crash reduction calculator to demonstrate the likelihood of teen collision claims and fatal crashes for different licensing requirements. It considers everything from permit age to number of practice hours to number of passengers. You can also search by state.

These days, some states even are going above and beyond typical GDL requirements. Maine mandates 70 supervised practice hours. Meanwhile, some states have passenger restrictions in place for as long as one year.

Graduated Driver Licensing Programs might make the learning-to-drive process more difficult for parents and teens alike. Yet these regulations were made with new drivers’ safety in mind. So if your state has lax requirements, you might consider placing a few extra restrictions on your teen driver. She may just thank you for it someday.


If you currently have (or will have) a teen driver in your household, take the time to teach them to drive safely. Also make sure to contact an insurance professional like an Erie Insurance Agent to add your new driver to your policy.

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