GDL laws prove to reduce teen driver deaths

Gone are the days when teens could take and pass a simple drivers’ education class and walk into the DMV to get their license upon turning 16 years of age.

In the wake of increasing teen auto accidents all across the country in tandem with concerns for more driver training and data that shows teen drivers have the highest crash risk per mile, teens today are now required to go through licensing stages before obtaining their full driving privileges. This is to allow them to build up experience driving.

These laws are known as graduated driver licensing laws, or GDLs, and have been implemented in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. There are three main stages to GDLs: learner, intermediate, and full privilege. Every state, however, has implemented different requirements for each stage.

The learner stage for Illinois drivers

The learner stage is the first graduated driver’s licensing stage. In Illinois, drivers who are at least 15 years of age are able to drive during this period. Before moving on to the next stage, drivers must complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving with an adult, 10 of which must be done at night. All drivers must be in the learner stage for a minimum of 9 months.

The intermediate stage for Illinois drivers

The intermediate stage is the next phase of the GDL requirements. Drivers in Illinois must be at least 16 years of age before entering this phase. During this time, nighttime driving restrictions are imposed. Sunday through Thursday, drivers are prohibited from operating a vehicle during the hours of 10pm-6am. On Friday and Saturdays, drivers cannot drive from 11pm-6am. Additionally, drivers in the intermediate stage cannot have more than one passenger younger than the age of 20 in the vehicle during the first 12 months (family members exempted.)

Full privilege stage for Illinois drivers

The full driver privilege is the final stage. This stage allows drivers of certain ages full driving privileges. However, there are still limitations for certain drivers. Those in Illinois have to be at least 18 years of age before driving without nighttime restrictions. Drivers must be at least 17 years of age before driving without passenger restrictions as stipulated in the intermediate stage.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, GDLs have been a success. In some areas of the country, GDLs have decreased teen crashes by up to 30 percent.

Additionally, some data suggests that states that have passed the strongest GDLs have experienced the most reductions in teen driver deaths.