Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Laws
Did you know that young drivers are at a higher risk of crashes than experienced drivers?
  • Motor vehicle crashes are the number-one killer of American teenagers.
  • Young drivers have much higher fatal crash rates than do other drivers.
  • Sixteen-year-old drivers, in particular, have higher crash rates than do drivers of any other age, including older teenagers.
  • Teen drivers are far more likely than other drivers to be involved in fatal crashes because they lack driving experience and tend to take greater risks.
  • The very youngest drivers are most likely to engage in risky behaviors, such as speeding and tailgating.
  • Because of their inexperience, beginners are the least able of all drivers to cope with hazardous situations. When this inexperience is combined with an aggressive driving style, a high crash rate results.


The use of GDL laws is proven to reduce the number of crashes by inexperienced drivers.
Studies have shown that young drivers benefit from a gradual introduction to the privileges of driving an automobile. SADD supports graduated driver’s licensing laws that establish three phases for young novice drivers, including a permit phase during which drivers can only operate a vehicle with an adult, a provisional phase during which drivers are subject to certain (e.g., night-time) restrictions, and an unrestricted phase when all conditions have been met. While it’s important to educate young drivers on these laws, parents and the law enforcement community have a part to play in the effectiveness of these laws. Parents must learn the laws and help their young driver adhere to the regulations. Law enforcement officer education and the strict enforcement of these laws help reduce the number of crashes by young drivers.
What We Are Doing About It: While SADD chapters currently have access to educational and advocacy materials, a comprehensive, peer-led program called UR the Key is in development, including activities designed to engage all stakeholders in the community, including students, parents, and driver’s education and the law enforcement community, to work together on GDL awareness, education, and enforcement.
Teen Driver Statistics
  • Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for 15-to 20-year-olds. [NHTSA]
  • In 2007, 19% of the fatalities in the U.S. were related to young-driver crashes. [NHTSA]
  • In the United States, the crash rate per mile driven for 16-19 year-olds is 4 times the risk for older drivers. [IIHS - Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 2009]
  • Fifty-six percent (56%) of the fatal crashes and 57% of the fatalities involving young drivers occurred on rural roadways. [NHTSA]
  • Speeding was a contributing factor in 31% of all fatal crashes. [NHTSA]
  • In 2007, 64% of young drivers in passenger vehicles invovled in fatal crashes who had been drinking were not wearing a safety belt. [NHTSA]
In partnership with NHTSA, we're pleased to share a new SADD program called Increasing Compliance of GDL Laws through Education and Outreach. This program uses peer-to-peer based prevention strategies to engage students, parents, law enforcement, and schools about the importance of following graduated driver licensing laws (GDL). These systems only work if they are being used by parents and teens and enforced by police. For this reason, there is a toolkit available for SADD students and advisors, parents, law enforcement, and school administrators. For more information on this program, visit
For more information on GDL laws, or to get involved in the SADD initiative, contact us.