Are Strong Graduated Driver Licensing Laws Having Unintended Consequences?

Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for young people aged 15 to 20 in the United States, accounting for approximately 36% of their deaths. Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) systems have been developed as an entry-level licensing program in the United States that gives young beginning drivers more time to learn the complex skills required to drive a motor vehicle. Typically, GDL programs require a supervised learning stage of 6 months or more, followed by an intermediate or provisional license stage of at least several months with restrictions on high-risk driving before a driver “graduates” to full license privileges with no restrictions (third stage). GDL laws now exist in all 50 States and the District of Columbia. This study was undertaken to determine the effects of strong graduated driver licensing laws on the fatal crashes of young drivers separately aged 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 and 20 using a different, but appropriate, methodology compared to Masten, et al. (2011). The authors used a longitudinal panel cross-sectional time-series approach where the authors examined annual Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data for all 50 states and the District of Columbia from 1990 through 2007. The results indicate that some of the lives of 15–17 year old novice drivers that the GDL save are offset among the associated increases in fatal crashes by 18–19 years old drivers. The reasons for such a finding of the GDL effects are unclear. They could be due to (1) novice 18–19 year olds beginning to drive without the protective framework of a GDL program by delaying licensure in the Good GDL states; (2) increased risk-taking behaviors by 18 and 19 year old drivers (e.g. impaired driving, late night driving, driving with teen passengers, lack of safety belt use, distracted driving); and/or (3) lack of experience to risky situations by 18–19 year old drivers in the Good GDL states because of the protective stages when they were 16 and 17 years old (e.g. late night driving; driving on high speed roads).


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Tables;
  • Pagination: pp 351–352
  • Monograph Title: Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine. 57th Annual Scientific Conference, Québec City, Canada, September 23-25, 2013
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01528325
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS
  • Created Date: Jun 4 2014 2:24PM