Social & Economic Factors Education Employment Income Family & Social Support Community Safety Search Policies & Programs

hints
Display All Policies & Programs

Strong graduated driver licensing laws

Health Factors: Community Safety
Decision Makers: State Government
Evidence Rating: Scientifically Supported
Population Reach: 10-19% of WI's population
Impact on Disparities: Likely to increase disparities

Is this program or policy in use in your community? Tell us about it.

Description

Graduated driver licensing (GDL) is a three stage system consisting of a learner’s permit, an intermediate license, and a full license (NHTSA-Goodwin 2013). GDL laws are established at the state level and strength varies by state (IIHS-GDL 2014). Strong GDL laws often include strict passenger and nighttime driving limitations, high minimum ages for learner’s permits, intermediate, and full licenses, and/or increased requirements for supervised driving experience between licensing stages (CDC-MV PSR 2013, Fell 2011). GDL laws usually do not apply to adults (IIHS-GDL 2014).

Expected Beneficial Outcomes

Reduced fatal and non-fatal injuries
Reduced crashes

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is strong evidence that strong graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws reduce crashes and fatalities more than weaker laws (Steadman 2014, IIHS-GDL 2014), especially for 15-year old (McCartt 2010) and 16-year-old drivers (Williams 2012, Fell 2011, McCartt 2010). Strong laws appear to reduce fatal crashes through young adulthood (IIHS-GDL 2014, McCartt 2010). Hispanic youth may not benefit from GDL laws as much as non-Hispanic youth (Williams 2012).

GDL laws with nighttime driving restrictions can reduce crashes and fatalities more than those without such restrictions (Williams 2012, McCartt 2010). Restrictions beginning at 9 or 10pm may prevent more crashes and fatalities than those beginning later (Williams 2012, IIHS-Trempel 2009); 16-year-old drivers have been shown to crash nearly three times as frequently after 9pm than before 9pm (Steadman 2014).

GDLs with passenger restrictions during the provisional license period can reduce crashes and fatalities more than those without such restrictions (Fell 2011, Williams 2012, McCartt 2010, IIHS-Trempel 2009). Some studies suggest that laws allowing no teenage passengers prevent the most fatalities (IIHS-GDL 2014), while others suggest allowing one teenage passenger is safest. Young passengers can increase distraction, risk-taking, and fatalities among teenage drivers; passengers over age 35, however, can reduce risk and prevent fatalities (Williams 2012).

Increasing the minimum permit or licensure age can reduce fatal crash rates for 15 to 17-year-olds in some circumstances (IIHS-GDL 2014, NHTSA-Goodwin 2013, Williams 2012). Requiring more supervised practice hours may also reduce crashes (IIHS-GDL 2014). Surveys indicate that parents may not know the importance of exposing novice drivers to a variety of conditions. North Carolina-based studies indicate that most practice driving occurs in residential areas with light traffic, and that many accidents during the first month of unsupervised driving reflect a failure to master basic maneuvers during the learning period (Williams 2012).

Teens generally comply with GDL laws when both parents and teens consider requirements reasonable (NHTSA-Goodwin 2013). National polling indicates that nighttime and passenger restrictions (Williams 2012) and learner permit holding periods are popular (NHTSA-Goodwin 2013).

Implementing strengthened GDL laws can cost very little. States typically require about six months to implement changes and notify residents (NHTSA-Goodwin 2013).  

Implementation

United States

All states have GDL laws, but strength and comprehensiveness vary widely (Steadman 2014). Most states allow unsupervised driving at age 16; minimum ages range from 14 and 3 months to 17. During intermediate licensure, most state prohibit unsupervised nighttime driving beginning at 11pm or midnight; restrictions range from no restriction in Vermont to earlier than 9pm in South Carolina and Idaho. Five states have no passenger restrictions during intermediate licensure, while 15 states and Washington DC allow no passengers or no young passengers except family members (IIHS-GDL).

Experts recommend a minimum age of 16 for a learner’s permit (IIHS-GDL, CDC-MV PSR 2013), at least six months (CDC-MV PSR 2013) or 70 practice hours and a minimum age of 17 (IIHS-GDL) before advancing to the intermediate stage, and a minimum age of 18 for full licensure (CDC-MV PSR 2013). During intermediate licensure, experts recommend nighttime restrictions begin by 8pm (IIHS-GDL) or 10pm (CDC-MV PSR 2013) and a limit of one (CDC-MV PSR 2013) or zero teen passengers (IIHS-GDL). No state law includes all of the strongest provisions that experts recommend (IIHS-GDL 2014).

Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, the minimum age for unsupervised driving is 16. During intermediate licensure, Wisconsin prohibits driving between midnight and 5am, and allows no more than one passenger (IIHS-GDL).

Implementation Resources

IIHS-GDL calculator - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). GDL crash reduction calculator. Accessed on December 8, 2015
PHLR-GDL - Public Health Law Research (PHLR). Graduated driver licensing laws. Accessed on December 10, 2015

Citations - Description

CDC-MV PSR 2013 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Motor vehicle injuries: Prevention status reports (PSR). 2013. Accessed on December 10, 2015
Fell 2011* - Fell JC, Jones K, Romano E, Voas R. An evaluation of graduated driver licensing effects on fatal crash involvements of young drivers in the United States. Traffic Injury Prevention. 2011;12(5):423–31. Accessed on December 8, 2015
IIHS-GDL 2014 - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Graduated driver licensing (GDL). 2014. Accessed on February 15, 2016
NHTSA-Goodwin 2013 - Goodwin A, Sandt B, Hall W, Thomas L, O’Brien N, Summerlin D. Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasure guide for state highway safety offices, 7th edition. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), US Department of Transportation (US DOT); 2013. Accessed on March 1, 2017

Citations - Evidence

Fell 2011* - Fell JC, Jones K, Romano E, Voas R. An evaluation of graduated driver licensing effects on fatal crash involvements of young drivers in the United States. Traffic Injury Prevention. 2011;12(5):423–31. Accessed on December 8, 2015
IIHS-GDL 2014 - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Graduated driver licensing (GDL). 2014. Accessed on February 15, 2016
IIHS-Trempel 2009 - Trempel RE. Graduated driver licensing laws and insurance collision claim frequencies of teenage drivers. Arlington, VA: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI); 2009. Accessed on February 15, 2016
McCartt 2010* - McCartt AT, Hellinga LA, Strouse LM, Farmer CM. Long-term effects of handheld cell phone laws on driver handheld cell phone use. Traffic Injury Prevention. 2010;11(2):133–41. Accessed on November 24, 2015
NHTSA-Goodwin 2013 - Goodwin A, Sandt B, Hall W, Thomas L, O’Brien N, Summerlin D. Countermeasures that work: A highway safety countermeasure guide for state highway safety offices, 7th edition. Washington, DC: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), US Department of Transportation (US DOT); 2013. Accessed on March 1, 2017
Steadman 2014* - Steadman M, Bush JK, Thygerson SM, Barnes MD. Graduated driver licensing provisions: An analysis of state policies and what works. Traffic Injury Prevention. 2014;15(4):343–8. Accessed on December 8, 2015
Williams 2012* - Williams AF, Tefft BC, Grabowski JG. Graduated driver licensing research, 2010-present. Journal of Safety Research. 2012;43(3):195–203. Accessed on December 10, 2015

Citations - Implementation

CDC-MV PSR 2013 - Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Motor vehicle injuries: Prevention status reports (PSR). 2013. Accessed on December 10, 2015
IIHS-GDL - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Graduated driver licensing. Accessed on December 14, 2015
IIHS-GDL 2014 - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Graduated driver licensing (GDL). 2014. Accessed on February 15, 2016
Steadman 2014* - Steadman M, Bush JK, Thygerson SM, Barnes MD. Graduated driver licensing provisions: An analysis of state policies and what works. Traffic Injury Prevention. 2014;15(4):343–8. Accessed on December 8, 2015

Page Last Updated

March 26, 2015

* Journal subscription may be required for access.