GDL program could save teen lives, report says

According to a new report, an estimated 2,000 lives could be saved through proposed programs designed to allow teens behind the wheel through gradual, phased-in driving privileges.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk of accidents with drivers between the ages of 16 and 19 years old is four times higher when compared to other drivers. The program was developed because car accidents cause the leading amount of teen deaths in the U.S.

Advocates of the program in Congress will be pushing for $25 million per year for states to increase graduated driver licensing programs they already carry. One stipulation of the program would not allow a teen to get a learner’s permit until an older age.

Currently, there are only two states with all seven components deemed most effective, including the minimum age of 16 years old for a learner’s permit, a six-month minimum limit before a teen can drive without supervision, and a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving during the learner’s stage. Additionally, a teen can receive an intermediate license at the age of 16 ½, there would be enforcement of an intermediate nighttime driving restriction beginning no later than 10 p.m., and there would be a restriction of only one non-family passenger for an intermediate license holder. Teens would be able to receive a full driver license at the age of 17.

Although there is much support of the proposed program, some groups including the National Youth Rights Association says the idea is discriminatory. Others might oppose it, arguing it is interference of state rights.

Source: USA Today, “Study: Phased-in teen driving privileges could save 2,000,” Larry Copeland, Dec. 6, 2011