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Graduate Licensing

Graduate licensing is a process by which learning drivers can be gradually introduced to driving. In recent years, many states have embraced this process to help young people become safer drivers.

The specifics of graduated licensing systems differ from state to state, but all consist of three steps:

During the learning phase the young person is required to undergo a period of practice driving under the supervision of an experienced licensed driver.

During the restricted phase teens can drive without supervision, with some restrictions. The major restriction is that they are prohibited from driving after drinking ANY amount of alcohol.

Additional restrictions can include:

  • Limitations on time of day that teen drivers can drive;
  • Requirements for seatbelt use;
  • Limitations on the number of passengers;
  • Limitations on where passengers can sit in the car; and
  • Limitations on the types of vehicles that can be driven.

It is often much easier to get your license suspended during the restricted phase. And often there are very serious penalties for driving under the influence of alcohol if you have a restricted license.

Once the restricted phase is complete, the young person is issued a full-privilege (drive anywhere at any time!) license.

Why do this? Well, you've probably heard the horrifying statistics - teens are 4 times more likely to die in car crashes than all other age groups combined. And the truth is that most of these crashes happen because teens don't yet have the experience they need to deal with the many challenges they face on the road. Graduated Licensing systems help protect young people, by not granting a full- privilege driver's license until they gain maturity and experience behind the wheel.

Does this mean the Driving Age has been raised? No, not at all. The graduated licensing law simply limits new drivers' exposure to risks while they are learning to drive. Also, this system more directly involves parents

Traffic Crashes - both alcohol and non-alcohol related - have been proven to be reduced by nighttime driving curfews, increased age for licensure, and graduated driving privileges (in which a variety of driving restrictions are lifted as the driver gains experience and maturity).

That various studies have shown that teen drivers are more likely to crash when carrying only teen passengers than when traveling alone, or when traveling with other passenger combinations? Why do you think this is?

For more information on graduated licensing and other issues related to teen driving, check out these articles: