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Get Down with the Law

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.

New Jersey and the GDL Decal

Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL, has proven effective in reducing teen car crashes across the United States by up to 50% (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration). GDL is comprised of various components or provisions, all of which serve the purpose of saving lives. The more we evolve our GDL and strengthen these provisions, the more lives we will save.

In May 2010, New Jersey became the first state to take the innovative step of requiring 16-20 year old drivers to post a reflective decal on the front and back license plates of their vehicles while they are in the learner’s permit/intermediate phases of the Graduated Drivers Licensing. The decal facilitates police enforcement of GDL restrictions and encourages young drivers to make good decisions in accordance with the law. New research has been published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that supports its effectiveness in reducing teen crashes.

A study conducted by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP)shows a sustained two-year decline in crash rates among intermediate drivers. CHOP researchers found that in the first two years after the new decal requirement took place, the overall crash rate for young intermediate drivers declined 9.5 percent compared to the previous four years. The rate of single-vehicle crashes involving 18-year olds decreased 13 percent per year and nearly 17 percent for 19-year-olds.

"Decal provisions now have the support of science. The provision may encourage safer driving behaviors, both among teens and other drivers sharing the road with them," says lead author Allison Curry, PhD, MPH, director of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP.  "There is definitely more we need to learn, in particular with respect to the specific mechanisms by which the decals reduced crashes. The end result, however, is that many fewer teens crashed."

 At Impact Teen Drivers, we believe that the union between education and enforcement is essential in achieving our goal of stopping the number one killer of teens in America. Together, we can help prevent these teen crashes by continuing to follow, enforce, educate about and support GDL.

Parents, remember you need to be at the forefront of your teen’s driving experience, enforcing GDL and always role modeling good behavior. Check out our library of “GDL Made Simple Videos,” that explain different states’ GDL in a straightforward and engaging manner: