Recommended GDL Requirements

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs are a proven strategy to prevent teen driver crashes. Teens need time to gain driving experience and to develop critical driving skills in lower-risk driving situations. States with comprehensive GDL programs generally have lower fatality rates than those with less robust ones.

As you begin on the path towards a driver’s license for the teen in your family, it’s important to understand how and why GDL requirements work to keep teens from crashing. It’s important to know the law in your state and the minimum GDL requirements recommended by science so that you can make informed choices during the learning-to-drive process.

Research Informs Recommended GDL Requirements

As part of Moving Forward for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), Congress’ reauthorization for the US Department of Transportation, a set of minimum provisions for GDL were determined based on the current state of science in January 2013 (please refer to chart below).

More recent research from CHOP and others suggest additional ways states might boost the effectiveness of comprehensive GDL programs. For instance, research conducted by CIRP Principal Investigator Allison Curry, PhD, MPH and colleagues suggests that we could reduce crashes among older novice drivers if GDL policies extended the Intermediate License requirements to all novice drivers up to age 21.

Another way states could boost the effectiveness of GDL is through the requirement of a GDL vehicle identifier (or decal) on the outside of vehicles driven by Intermediate License holders. Only New Jersey currently requires a GDL decal. According to research conducted by Dr. Curry and colleagues, that state realized a sustained 9.5% decrease in their crash rates among Intermediate license holders after enacting Kyleigh’s Law in 2010.


Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Provisions
Stages of GDL MAP-21 Recommended Provisions* Boost Your GDL**
Learner’s Permit
Apply to any novice driver under 21 years of age
Minimum 6 month holding period; does not expire before age 16
Pass vision and knowledge tests
Adult licensed driver (at least 21 years old) must supervise new driver at all times
Minimum 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training
No use of wireless communications device while driving
Driver education and testing should be integrated into GDL
Require a GDL vehicle identifier/decal
Require more diversity of supervised driving practice environments as well as varied conditions
Increase access to and affordability of DE/Training options

Intermediate License

Completed a Learner’s Permit stage, passed driving skills test, and is conviction free for prior consecutive 6 months
Minimum 6 month holding period; does not expire before age 18
No more than one non-familial passenger younger than 21, unless accompanied by licensed driver at least 21 years old
No nighttime driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
No use of wireless communications device while driving
Require a GDL vehicle identifier/decal
Extend GDL Intermediate License to all novice drivers up to age 21
Require a minimum licensing age of 17 years
Require a minimum holding period of 12 months
Full License
Conviction free for prior consecutive 6 months
Must obey jurisdiction’s traffic laws and have clean driving record
No use of wireless communications device while driving

* Column reflects an abridged version of the MAP-21 provisions. Refer to for complete language.

** Column reflects research conducted by CHOP and other leading teen driver safety research organizations.