Resolving to become a safer driver

Study Shows That GDL Laws Work; To An Extent

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in September 2011 shows that the death rate for teen drivers under the age of 18 has fallen dramatically over the past several years. However, the good news in this study comes with a downside; the rate of fatal crashes for teen drivers over the age of 18 has risen.  The reason for the increase isn’t totally certain but there are a couple of factors that some feel have led to the increase.

The Graduated Driving License (GDL) laws are working as they were designed. GDL laws place restrictions on new teen drivers that limit the number of passengers they can carry, the hours that they can drive, and their ability to use cell phones while driving. These laws were designed to limit all of the distractions that lead to so many teen deaths and, according to the researchers, they have resulted in 1,348 fewer crashes among 16 year olds.

Part of the reason for the increase in the death rate for 18 year olds is that they are now free of those restrictions and, with more passengers in the car and the ability to drive late a t night, they may be entering into driving situations that they have never experienced before and are unable to cope with.

Another reason that some experts have noted is that, with the restrictions placed on 16 year olds to complete driver training prior to getting their license, many teens are now waiting until they are 18 before getting a license. At the age of 18, there is often no requirement for any type of formal classroom or behind the wheel training. The requirement to hold a learner’s permit for a year and document up to 50 hours of supervised driving experience is also lifted for 18 year olds.

By waiting until they are 18, these drivers can often get their license in just a few weeks by passing what is generally a pretty easy driving test at the DMV. They are foregoing a lot of good training that teaches them the skills necessary to avoid collisions on the road.

If you have a teen at home that is waiting until age 18, you should insist that he or she still take all of the required courses required of 16 year olds and get at least 50 hours (ten at night) of supervised driving experience before allowing them to get their license.