Graduated Licensing Programs Facts

Graduated Licensing Programs Facts


This lesson takes a look at social trade-offs in the context of graduated driver licensing programs. These are defined as systems for phasing in on-road driving: allowing beginners to get their initial experience under conditions that involve lower risk and introducing them in stages to more complex driving situations.

Here are some important research findings about teenage drivers.

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers
  • Based on crashes of all severities, the crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 years-olds is four times the risk for older drivers. Risk is highest at age 16. In fact, the crash rate per mile driven is twice as high for 16 year-olds as it is for 18-19 year-olds.

[Source: U.S. Department of Transportation's Fatality Analysis Reporting System, as reported by
the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety/Highway Loss Data Institute in “Fatality Facts 2004:
Teenagers” (http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality_facts/teenagers.html).]

Many states have adopted graduated licensing programs as a means of reducing the risks to
young drivers. Graduated programs have three phases: a learner period, an interim license with
restrictions, and an unrestricted license. The main features of these graduated licensing programs

  • Minimum age for a learner’s permit
  • Mandatory waiting period before applying for an interim license
  • Minimum hours of supervised driving
  • Minimum age for an interim license
  • Nighttime restrictions
  • Passenger restrictions
  • Minimum age for full licensing


Evidence suggests that these programs are effective at reducing the risk to young drivers:

  • Graduated driver licensing programs reduce, by an average of 11 percent, the incidence of fatal crashes of 16-year-old drivers.
  • The most comprehensive graduated driver licensing programs reduce the incidence of such fatal crashes by 20 percent.


[Source: “Graduated Driver Licensing Programs and Fatal Crashes of 16-Year-Old Drivers: A
National Evaluation,” (http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/reprint/118/1/56) from Pediatrics,
Vol. 118 No. 1 by Li-Hui Chen, MS, PhD, Susan P. Baker, MPH and Guohua Li, MD, DrPH.]

This teacher sheet is a part of the Novice Drivers lesson.

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