Teen and Novice Drivers

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs allow young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges. Most programs include three stages:

  • Learner Stage: supervised driving, cumulating with a driving test;
  • Intermediate Stage: limiting unsupervised driving in high risk situations; and
  • Full Privilege Stage: a standard driver's license.

During the 1990s, many states began enacting GDL laws. The programs and types of restrictions vary from state to state. Below are some highlights:

  • Cell Phones/Texting: 38 states and D.C. ban all cell phone use by novice drivers. (See GHSA's Cell Phone laws page for more information.)
  • Nighttime Driving Restriction: All states except Vermont restrict nighttime driving during the intermediate stage.
  • Passenger Restriction: 46 states and D.C. restrict the number of passengers during the intermediate stage.
  • Novice Driver Decal: New Jersey is the only state with a measure requiring those younger than 21 without full-privilege licenses to display a decal on their vehicle identifying them as new drivers.

NOTE: GHSA does not compile any additional data on GDL laws other than what is presented here. For more information, consult the appropriate State Highway Safety Office.

Sources: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and State Highway Safety Offices.

Short Term Description
Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs allow young drivers to safely gain driving experience before obtaining full driving privileges.

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