Get Down with the Law

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They say “practice makes perfect,” but when it comes to driving, you practice in the pursuit of survival rather than perfection. Graduating Driver Licensing is designed to help save your life, because it effectively structures your driving practice.

The idea behind GDL is the same idea behind swimming—you wouldn’t throw a baby into the English Channel and shout, “SWIM!” Anyone trying to teach a child to swim would probably start out in a pool, and hold the toddler in their arms to supervise the first splashing session. Then, after a few years maybe allow them to frolic in the shallow-end, eventually take swimming lessons, etc. Finally, gold medals are in sight, and it wasn’t the icy cold immersion in English Channel either—it was the practice that escalated gradually in intensity. That word, “gradual” is key.

Just like life jackets were not designed to “take the fun out of swimming,” GDL was not created to “take the fun out of driving.” States created these programs in order to reduce the number of crashes, injuries, and fatalities of teen drivers. GDL has been shown to reduce crash rates by up to 50% (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Why are there nighttime restrictions?

  • Night driving is more dangerous than day driving due to limited visibility, increased risk of drowsiness, and higher rate of impaired drivers on the roads.
  • Teenage crash deaths in 2012 occurred most frequently from 9 p.m. to midnight (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Restrictions allow teens to gain experience driving during the day before allowing them to drive in the more dangerous situation of night.

Why are there passenger restrictions?

  • Each teen passenger increases the risk of a teen driver crash—with three or more passengers quadrupling the risk. (National Safety Council)
  • In 2012, 54 percent of deaths among teenage passengers occurred in vehicles driven by another teenager. (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety)

Restrictions protect teens from distractions like friends and peers and protect the friends and peers from a driver who is at the highest crash risk.

Follow the law! Live it! Love it!


Cell phone laws and Graduated Driver Licensing provisions for each state: 

Impact Teen Drivers has “GDL Made Simple” videos for some states that provide an entertaining quick look at state-specific GDL laws. Check if your state is listed.