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Graduated driver licensing systems basics

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Graduated driver licensing systems basics

Many states have changed the rules for new drivers, especially the guidelines that are in place for teenagers under the age of 18. These new drivers cannot go straight from a learner's permit to a full valid license. Instead these new drivers are required to go through a graduated licensing system which includes at least one more step and many more rules and restrictions.

New teenager drivers might be unhappy with these new licensing systems in various states but the changes were done to make these new drivers better drivers. New teenager drivers are typically not as mature as most drivers currently on the roadways and definitely do not have the driving experience of other motorists. Due to this immaturity and limited driving skills, teens are more at risk to have an accident.

Graduated driver licensing (GDL) is a system of laws and practices that gradually introduce young drivers into the driving population. This is typically done by imposing an intermediate or provisional license in between the learner permit and full valid license. In November 2002, the National Safety Council sponsored a symposium that included a collection of scientific researchers who prepared documentation regarding but the higher risks and collision rates for teenage drivers and the benefits that have been shown from implementing GDL provisions.

The result of this symposium and other data shared with various states' public safety agencies, changes to the licensing systems have occurred. The states have seen proof of a graduated driver licensing system working to cut down the collision and fatalities of teen drivers. The GDL is able to cut down on accidents and fatal crashes by prolonging the learning process for young novice drivers.

The purpose of the graduated driver licensing programs is to allow young drivers to safely garner driving experience, and hopefully a bit of maturity, before obtaining full driving privileges in their state. The GDL is typically targeted at teenagers, thus those young drivers under the age of 18. Depending on the state's driving laws the first step can be started at 14, 15 or 16.

Currently the graduated driver license program can be found in most all states around the United States and in many provinces within Canada. Ontario, Canada is especially well known for their graduated driver licensing program but Nova Scotia and British Columbia also have GDL systems in place that have been shown to save lives by bringing down the fatality rate for young drivers with their GDL systems in place.

The terms of a GDL program will vary depending on the state laws but generally most states require in the first step, having a learner's permit, an over the age of 21 adult with a valid driver's license, which they have had for a certain number of years, must be present in the front seat while the new young driver is operating the motor vehicle. The teen then must take a certified driver education course while holding their learner's permit for a period of 3 to 6 or even 12 months. After these stipulations have been met the driver can take the next step and take the driving test.

After passing the driving test the provisional or intermediate license is the next step of the graduated licensing system. As the graduating system implies the person has graduated to a new level at this point so some restrictions are taken away but they are not yet fully licensed without any restrictions. Again, the provisions for an intermediate license will differ according to state laws but basically at this stage the teen can drive during daylight hours without an adult but are required to have one during late night hours or are not allowed to do night-time driving at all. They are not allowed to have alcohol in their vehicle at any time and may have other conditions or restrictions such as being restricted to the number of passengers they can have in the vehicle with them.

To obtain a full license the driver must have completed both stages one and two of the graduated licensing process. The provisional license typically must be held for a period of 6, 8 or 12 months and the driver must be of a minimum age before they can apply for a full state license. Many states require that the person also had not been received any traffic violations before acquiring their full license or they will have to wait to apply for it.

Since 2005 every state in the United State has been required to apply a type of GDL system to their licensing procedures. Most states had a GDL system in place for several years before this federal requirement when into effect and have seen the collision and fatality rates for teenagers decline as a result.

Currently 46 states have a 3-tiered licensing system in place while four states only have a 2-tiered GDL system; they are lacking an intermediate stage. The graduated system allows for a new, teenage driver to take a driver's education course, have restricted driving on the roadways and mature as a driver. As they go through these steps they gain confidence behind the wheel and become a better, experienced driver. This makes it safer for both the teenager and other motorists to drive together on the roadways.

Read about Teen Insurance in our Life Stages pages at CarInsurance.com. Frequently Asked Questions, car choices for teens and discounts available for young drivers are all discussed here.

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