Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs began gaining popularity in the mid-1990s. By the end of 2000, all but nine states had GDL laws in place. Although GDL laws vary from state to state, most programs include some combination of the following:
- Nighttime driving restrictions
- Restrictions on driving with passengers
- Ban on non-emergency cell phone use
- Minimum age requirements
- Required practice hours
The purpose of GDL programs is to help keep teens safe as they gradually acquire driving experience and develop their driving skills. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States, killing more than 5,000 teens ages 16-20 each year. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, research shows that GDL laws generally reduce crashes involving young, novice drivers by as much as 20 to 50 percent.
Florida GDL Laws
In Florida, teen drivers are given an intermediate license until they turn 18. The intermediate license carries certain nighttime driving restrictions depending on the driver’s age. Unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old and is sitting in the closest seat to the right of the driver, or unless driving to and from work, 16-year-olds cannot drive outside the hours of 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and 17-year-olds cannot drive outside the hours of 5 a.m. to 1 a.m. There are currently no passenger restrictions for teen drivers, and the state does not have any laws prohibiting or restricting cell phone use by drivers of any age.
IIHS Working to Improve GDL Programs
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and Highway Loss Data Institute recently introduced an online calculator designed to help states improve their GDL programs. The calculator allows people to see the safety gains each state could achieve by adopting certain GDL provisions concerning practice hours, permit age, license age, nighttime driving and/or driving with passengers. For example, Florida could potentially reduce fatal crashes by 7 percent and collision claims by 5 percent if the state implemented a one-passenger limit for teen drivers.
The IIHS and HLDI estimate that more than 500 lives could be saved and more than 9,500 car accidents prevented annually “if every state adopted all five components of the toughest young driver laws in the nation.” Current best practices include:
- Having a minimum permit age of 16
- Having a minimum intermediate license age of 17
- Requiring at least 65 hours of supervised practice driving
- Restricting nighttime driving starting at 8 p.m.
- Banning all teen passengers
If you or your teenager has been seriously injured in an auto accident, an experienced Orlando injury attorney can review your case and determine whether you may be entitled to compensation. To learn about your legal rights, contact a qualified Orlando injury lawyer today.