A new report by the National Safety Council has found that if all 50 U.S. states instituted comprehensive phased-in driving laws, 2,000 lives could be saved. “We knew that when states pass good laws, lives are saved and a lot of money is saved. We’d just never done the analysis,” says John Ulczycki of the National Safety Council.
Advocates of graduated driver licensing (GDL) are hoping the study will spur Congress to include funding for about $25 million a year in incentives to states as they prepare to consider a multiyear highway and transit-spending bill. The incentives would strengthen GDL programs in states with weaker laws.
All states have some form of GDL, which gives drivers more driving privileges as they gain experience. Ulczucki and other experts say the most effective laps contain seven key components:
- Minimum age 16 for a learner’s permit
- Six months before unsupervised driving
- Minimum 30 hours supervised driving during learner’s stage
- Intermediate licensing at 16½ minimum
- Intermediate nighttime driving restriction beginning no later than 10pm
- No more than one non-family passenger for intermediate license holders
- Minimum age 17 for a full license
Currently, New York and Delaware are the only two states where all seven components have been implemented.
Opponents of the component for raising the minimum age for getting a learner’s permit say that it is up to the state to decide what age teens should be allowed to drive and the National Youth Rights Association opposes a national GDL law, saying it is discriminatory.