Reducing teen crash rates

Four Ways Teens Benefit from Following Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

It isn’t uncommon for teens to rebel against Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws. They may reason that since they passed the driving test, they shouldn’t have to deal with restrictions. Or they may be unfamiliar with the GDL laws in their state and violate them unintentionally. But there are many benefits to obeying GDL laws for teens, such as:

1. They’re a chance to prove your maturity and trustworthiness. One of the basic requirements for functioning in our society is the ability to follow the rules. Teens who are unwilling to do so demonstrate a lack of maturity and make other people, specifically adults, think they can’t be trusted. Conversely, showing that you’re willing to abide by certain restrictions lets adults, specifically your parents, know that you are grown-up and dependable enough to handle additional privileges.

2. They can help you get out of risky situations with your pride intact. You may have the best intentions of following GDL laws, but sometimes friends make that a challenge. It might be hard to resist when a friend wants you to break curfew or pile one too many passengers into your vehicle; GDL laws give you an outside authority you can blame for your refusal to do these things. You can explain that you don’t want to get caught breaking the law because you might lose your license and/or your parents might ground you from driving if you get a traffic ticket.

3. They’re the law. You won’t be lying if you tell a friend you are afraid of losing your license for breaking GDL laws; violating the terms of the law could result in the loss of your driving privileges. If you get a ticket for breaking a GDL law, you will have to pay a fine and your insurance rates, which are already high, could increase. After accruing a certain number of points on your license, you could lose it for a specified period of time and have to pay more fines to get it back. Ignorance of the law is no excuse, so be sure to familiarize yourself with the GDL laws in your state.

4. They really do keep you safe. GDL laws exist because statistically, teens get into many more crashes than adult drivers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), sixteen-year old drivers have crash rates that are about three times greater than 17-year-old drivers, five times greater than 18-year-old drivers, and approximately twice the rate of 85-year-old drivers. We know that GDL laws work, because there has been an overall decrease in fatal crashes involving teens nationally since GDL laws began to be implemented. Specific restrictions have also been found to be effective; for example, an NHTSA study found that states with nighttime driving restrictions for teen drivers show decreases in crashes of up to 60% during the restricted hours. GDL laws work because they help teens increase their driving skills while minimizing the risks of being on the road with limited experience.

You can probably see how these four factors tie together. If you break GDL laws, you show the adults in your life that you can’t be trusted, you are more likely to be peer-pressured into taking risks you know you shouldn’t take, you take a chance on losing your license, and you raise the possibility that you or someone riding with you will be injured or killed in a crash. When you choose to follow GDL laws, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.