The purpose of the Graduated Driver License (GDL) program is to reduce injury and death in young teen drivers by easing teens onto the road in stages as they gain experience and maturity.
Florida’s GDL law is staged in three levels:
Stage 1 – Learner’s Permit: Teens must be at least 15 years old to apply for a learner’s permit and have completed the required courses and tests. At this stage, a teen may only drive during daylight hours during the first 3 months and until 10 p.m. thereafter with a licensed driver that is 21 or older and sitting in the front passenger seat. (50 hours of supervised driving, 10 of which must be at night)
Stage 2 – Intermediate License: After holding a Learner’s Permit for 12 months (minimum age 16) without any traffic convictions, teens can obtain an Intermediate License based on their age.
- 16 year olds are allowed to drive between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.
- 17 year olds may drive between 5 a.m. and 1 a.m.
All other times they must be accompanied by a licensed driver that is 21 years old and in the front passenger seat, unless they are driving to or from work.
Stage 3 – Full Privilege License: When a young driver turns 18, the restrictions are removed from their license and they are given a full driver’s license.
Why is the GDL program so important for our young drivers? Research shows that certain behaviors are at the core of teen-related crashes. Inexperience and immaturity combined with speed, drinking and driving, not wearing seat belts, and distracted driving compound this problem. In fact, when Florida’s GDL program became law in July of 1996 the benefits became immediately apparent. The following year, Florida saw a 9% reduction in death and injury in the 15 to 17 year-old group of new drivers.
Here are some facts from the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles to back-up the rational for GDL:
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers.
- Mile for mile, teenagers are involved in three times the number of fatal crashes than all other drivers.
- Teens are less likely than adults to understand the risks of driving because they lack experience and their brains are still developing.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teens 16 to 19 years of age.
- Young drivers only make up 6% of drivers but are involved in 14% of the fatal crashes.
For more information on this important topic, please see:
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