Grant Expansion Spotlights Graduated Driver Licensing

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U.S. Congress passes bill that includes expansion of grants available to states with strong GDL standards

Part of a bill passed last week by members of U.S. Congress expanded grants available to states that strengthen their graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws, highlighting efforts by insurers, trade organizations, research firms and safety advocates alike to establish stronger GDL laws across the U.S., according to

Typically, auto insurance coverage is pricier for teenagers because they are new to driving and show higher rates of crashing and incidents that drive up insurance companies' claim expenses. GDL laws are meant to introduce those teenagers to the road bit by bit, heavily restricting drivers’ rights at first before gradually lifting them as they familiarize themselves behind the wheel.

HR 4348 included an expansion of grant programs for “national priority safety programs” that gives states money for beefing up their GDL laws. The bill is awaiting final approval from President Barack Obama.

A state is eligible for such grants if they implement GDL laws that include a learner’s permit stage of at least six months, prohibit the use of mobile devices, restrict nighttime driving, bar non-family passengers under 21 years old unless accompanied by an adult, and require at least 40 hours of supervised driving practice and a driver training course.

The GDL standards established in HR 4348 follow other standards set by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) and Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) in an online calculator of crashes and deaths that could be prevented with stronger GDL laws. The calculator was released in May, showing that the institutes’ standards could save more than 500 lives and prevent 9,500 crashes annually if implemented in every U.S. state.

The institutes' “best GDL provisions” include a minimum permit age of 16 years old, 65 supervised hours of driving practice, a licensing age of 17, teenage passenger restrictions, and nighttime driving restrictions that start at 8 p.m.

Few states enforce all of those provisions under their GDL laws, according to the Institute. For example, New Jersey is the only state to require that drivers be at least 17 years old to get intermediate licenses, while Pennsylvania is the only state to require 65 hours of supervised driving.

Even states that already have good GDL programs could see lower crash and death rates if they strengthened certain parts of their laws, the institutes stated. New York, cited as a state with “a strong GDL program” that enforces a 50-hour requirement for driving practice, nighttime restrictions beginning at 9 p.m. and bans on more than one teenage passenger. In addition, New York requires minimum ages of 16 years old and 16-and-a-half for permits and intermediate licenses, respectively.

According to the calculator, New York would see a 24 percent reduction in fatal crashes among 15- to 17-year-olds along with a 7 percent reduction in collision claims among 16- to 17-year-olds if the state adopted the institutes’ GDL standards.

For more on this and related issues, head to for access to an easy-to-use quote-comparison generator and informative resource pages.

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