Promote Compliance with Graduated Driver Licensing Laws

If your organization is looking for themes for programs aimed at saving teen lives, look no further than promoting compliance with Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws.

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs--which include limitations on passengers and nighttime driving restrictions during the first year of licensure--are a cornerstone of public policy aimed at reducing the burden of crashes on adolescent health. Further reductions in teen crash rates will rely on strengthening specific provisions of GDL, as well as greater compliance with and enforcement of GDL provisions.

Most Teens Comply with GDL Restrictions

The good news is that most novice teen drivers do comply with the initial restrictions placed on their driver license during the first 6 to 12 months of holding a driver license. CIRP Principal Investigator Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH and her colleagues published a study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine that provides the first population-level estimate of young intermediate drivers’ compliance with GDL. The researchers linked New Jersey’s licensing and crash record databases from July 2010 through June 2012 to look at data from over 32,203 drivers and 30,594 crashes. They then used a novel application of the quasi-induced exposure technique, a method that has been developed to estimate driving exposure in the absence of more detailed information, to estimate compliance rates.

The 2016 study found that among non-responsible crash-involved intermediate license holders in NJ:

  • More than 91% of young intermediate drivers’ trips in NJ follow the state’s passenger restriction.
  • Nearly 97% of these trips comply with the nighttime restriction.

However, the study also estimated that approximately 30,000 to 40,000 trips taken among young intermediate drivers each day were not in compliance with the passenger restriction, and over 15,000 trips per day were not in compliance with the nighttime restriction. So there is still work to be done to better reach and protect those teens who are more likely to not comply. (Access an infographic on the research here.)

How To Promote Compliance 

The study researchers were also able to identify who doesn’t comply and when, helping stakeholders better understand who needs to hear from them about why it’s important to comply with Graduated Driver Licensing laws.

  • Counsel law enforcement and parents to be especially mindful during the summer and on weekends.
  • Encourage parents to set house rules that align with GDL.
  • Educate teens at higher risk of not complying with GDL (males, those living in lower socioeconomic areas) on the purpose and benefits of following GDL.
  • Help teens avoid higher risk driving situations by providing alternative ways to get to school or work.

Positive Framing

When speaking with teens and their parents about the importance of complying with Graduated Driver Licensing laws, emphasize the positive:

  • Most families do follow GDL! Be like your peers.
  • GDL is there to keep teen drivers safe from crashing while they gain skill and maturity in less risky driving environments.
  • GDL provides a gradual increase in driving privileges, and the limitations are temporary.