What is a Graduated Driver Licensing?

Got a new teen driver in your household? Or maybe you're the teen driver? Either way, you'll want to read up on something called Graduated Driver Licensing. Every state has a three-stage Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program that allows young drivers to gain driving skills in a safe, supervised way. When followed, these programs help prepare a teen driver for whatever the road throws their way.

In fact, research by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has shown that "states with the strongest [GDL] laws enjoy bigger reductions in teen driver deaths than states with weak laws. Some states make teens wait a little longer before they get their learner permits and full-privilege licenses. This also saves lives."

And since GDL programs have been shown to reduce risk, they can also lead to lower rates on car insurance for teens. Let's see how!

The three stages of graduated driver licensing.

GDL programs vary by state, but programs are generally made up of three different stages. Each stage is designed to give young drivers increasingly more responsibility and experience behind the wheel.

GDL programs vary by state, but programs are generally made up of three different stages. Each stage is designed to give young drivers increasingly more responsibility and experience behind the wheel.

1. Supervised learning period: The driver passes a qualifying test to receive their learner's permit. They can drive only with a supervising adult in the car for a certain number of hours. Once they meet the hour requirement, they can earn an intermediate license.

2. Intermediate license: A teen driver with an intermediate license no longer needs adult supervision in the car, however, there are still restrictions on their driving activity. Restrictions usually relate to curfews and limiting the number of distractions in the vehicle.

3. Full-privilege license: The teen driver meets all of their state's requirements to earn an unrestricted driver's license.

Do graduated driver licensing programs work?

Yes, GDL programs save lives! States with comprehensive GDL programs in place report as much as a 40 percent drop in the number of fatal crashes among 16-year-old drivers, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The IIHS even has a graduated driver licensing reduction calculator that shows how changes to state provisions could impact collision claims and crash rates among young drivers. Click on the above link, select your state, and move the sliders to see just how much increasing permit age, practice hours, and license age, and limiting night driving hours and the number of passengers in the car can reduce collision claims and fatal crashes.

A quick look at GDL laws by state.

We've provided a brief overview of GDL requirements for new drivers in states where Direct Auto & Life customers typically live. To view more in-depth GDL laws for all 50 states, visit IIHS.org.

Alabama

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your learner's permit for 6 months, complete 50 hours of supervised driving, and be 16 years old to earn an intermediate license
  • Can't drive between midnight and 6AM or have more than one passenger during intermediate stage

Arkansas

  • Must be at least 14 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 6 months and be 16 years old before getting an intermediate license
  • Can't drive between 11PM and 4AM or carry more than one passenger younger than 21 during the intermediate stage

Florida

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 12 months, complete 50 hours of supervised driving (10 of which are at night), and be 16 years old before getting an intermediate license
  • Can't drive between 11PM and 6AM if you're 16 years old; 1AM to 5AM for 17 year olds during the intermediate stage

Georgia

  • Must be at least 16 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 12 months, complete 40 hours of supervised driving (6 of which must be at night), and be 16 years old to get an intermediate license
  • During the intermediate stage, you can't drive between midnight and 5AM or carry any passengers for the first 6 months. For the second 6 months, you can have no more than one passenger younger than 21. After that, no more than three passengers.

Louisiana

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 6 months, complete 50 hours of supervised driving (15 of which have to be at night), and be 16 years old to get an intermediate license
  • Can't drive between 11PM and 5AM during the intermediate stage, and cannot carry more than one passenger younger than 21 between 6PM and 5AM

Mississippi

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 12 months and be 16 years old to get an intermediate license
  • Can't drive between 10PM and 6AM on Sun-Thurs or 11:30PM and 6AM on Fri-Sat during the intermediate stage

North Carolina

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 12 months, complete 60 hours of supervised driving (10 of which have to be at night), and be 16 years old before getting an intermediate license
  • During the intermediate phase, you must complete 12 hours of supervised driving (6 of which must be at night)
  • Can't drive between 9PM and 5AM during the intermediate phase
  • Can't carry more than one passenger younger than 21 during the intermediate phase

South Carolina

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 6 months and complete 40 hours of supervised driving (10 of which must be at night) before getting an intermediate license
  • Can't drive between 6PM and 6AM EST or 8PM and 6AM EDT during intermediate stage
  • Can't carry more than two passengers younger than 21 during intermediate stage, unless transporting students to and from school

Tennessee

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 6 months, complete 50 hours of supervised driving (10 of which must be at night), and be 16 years old in order to get intermediate license
  • Can't drive between 11PM and 6AM during intermediate stage, and can't carry more than one passenger

Texas

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 6 months, complete 30 hours of supervised driving (10 of which must be at night), and be 16 years old in order to get intermediate license
  • Can't drive between midnight and 5AM, and can't carry more than one passenger younger than 21 during the intermediate stage

Virginia

  • Must be at least 15 years old to get a learner's permit
  • Must have your permit for 9 months, complete 45 hours of supervised driving (15 of which must be at night), and be at least 16 years old to get an intermediate license
  • For the first 12 months of the intermediate stage, can't carry more than one passenger under 21; after that, no more than three passengers younger than 21

Graduated driver licensing & car insurance.

As a new driver, completing your state's GDL program can help you develop the skills you need behind the wheel. Teen drivers have the highest crash risk per mile traveled, reports IIHS, so anything you can do to help reduce this risk can really pay off. Literally! Avoid accidents, collisions, and claims and you could be the perfect candidate for a Safe Driver Discount on car insurance.

Car insurance for teens and new drivers can be expensive, but GDL laws can help reduce accidents and in turn, car insurance rates, too. If it's time for your teen to start driving, double check the GDL laws in your state and give us a call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732). While you teach your teen driver about parallel parking, we can help keep your teen driver covered with the right auto insurance!

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What is a Graduated Driver Licensing?
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