Combating teen car accident injuries through GDL laws

According to the CDC, auto accidents are the leading cause of death of teen drivers in the United States. Individuals age 15-24 make up only 14 percent of the total U.S. population, but they account for roughly 30 percent of the total costs of auto accident injuries. And, due to a number of factors like the increase in distracted driving, that statistic isn't going away anytime soon.

Fortunately, states are passing laws designed to reduce accidents involving teenagers. One way is through graduated driver licensing programs.

Graduated driver licensing programs

Graduated driver licensing laws, or GDLs as they are often referred to, are essentially driving programs that allow novice drivers to gradually gain driving experience. All 50 states plus the District of Columbia have passed GDL laws.

Instead of simply handing over the keys to new drivers when they turn 16 or when they complete the requisite driving course requirements, novice drivers must complete three different stages: learner, intermediate and full privilege. Each state, however, has its own GDL requirements for each stage.

The learner stage in Georgia

In Georgia, the learner stage (the first stage of the program) lasts for 12 months. Drivers must be 15 years of age before entering the learner stage. They must complete a total of 34 hours of supervised daytime driving with an adult and an additional 6 hours of nighttime driving with an adult before passing the stage.

The intermediate stage in Georgia

The intermediate stage is the second stage of the program. In Georgia, drivers in the intermediate stage must be at least 16 years of age and must complete all requirements from the learner stage. No additional mandates are required to be fulfilled by drivers, however, there are certain limitations imposed.

For the first 6 months, drivers in the intermediate stage are not allowed to drive with any passengers. After the 6 month period passes, one passenger (younger than 21 years of age) is allowed to ride along in the vehicle. After the expiration of the full 12 months, up to three passengers (of any age) are allowed to drive in the vehicle for the remainder of the intermediate stage.

Full driving privilege in Georgia

Drivers in Georgia who have completed the first two stages and are at least 18 years of age or older are eligible to enter the full privilege stage. Other than the age requirement, there are no restrictions for drivers in this stage.

The affect of GDL programs

It remains to be seen just how much of an impact these laws will have on teen auto accident injuries and fatalities in the decades to come. The CDC has indicated, though, that "the most comprehensive graduated drivers licensing (GDL) programs [in the country] are associated with reductions of 38 percent and 40 percent in fatal and injury crashes, respectively, among 16-year-old drivers.