Has the Tennessee Graduated Licensing Program Made Our Teens Safer?

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that teenagers are involved in the greatest amount of fatal car wrecks out of any age group. In July 2001, the state government of Tennessee enacted a graduated driver’s license (GDL) program in an attempt to reduce the rate of car accidents in the Volunteer State.

What is the Graduated Driver License Program?

To help teenage drivers become accustomed to the responsibilities of driving, those under the age of 18 are required to drive for 50 hours with the supervision of a guardian or driving instructor in addition to holding a learner’s permit for at least six months. Upon the satisfaction of these requirements, teenagers are eligible for an intermediate restricted driving license.

This initial intermediate license limits the driver to operating a vehicle with a maximum of one passenger and can only drive between the hours of 6 a.m. and 11 p.m.

Do Graduated Licensing Programs Work?

Almost every state has a GDL program like the one used in Tennessee. Nationwide, teenage drivers must typically adhere to the following restrictions:

  • They must be a minimum age of 15 or 16.
  • Teenagers must log at least 30 hours of supervised driving before receiving a license.
  • Teenage drivers have restricted nighttime driving.
  • Although the amount of passengers a teenage driver can have in the car varies by GDL programs, most states have enacted strict passenger limits for those learning to drive.
  • There is no cell phone use while driving.

A study by Johns Hopkins University found that GDL programs reduce the rate of car accidents by as much as 21 percent. One of the study’s co-authors stated, “1,000 [teen drivers] are involved in fatal crashes in the United States…the effectiveness of graduated driver licensing programs in reducing fatal crashes…is very robust. Enhancing the enforcement of [GDL programs] could prevent more premature deaths.”

Parents Make the Road Safer

If your child is about to begin or currently learning how to drive, it is important to sit down with them and emphasize the importance of using the roads safely and responsibly. Remind your teenage driver that driving is a privilege, and that the choices he or she makes behind the wheel can have an incredibly serious and often fatal effect. Although GDL programs offer valuable educational resources to new drivers, there is no substitute for parental involvement when it comes to making the roads of Tennessee a safer place for everyone.

The Law Firm of Stanley A. Davis Helps Those Injured in Car Accidents

If you have been hurt, Nashville injury lawyer Stanley A. Davis is on your side. When innocent people suffer injuries from a car wreck, he stands ready to fight for justice on their behalf. Contact our office today for a confidential, no-cost consultation to talk about your case.


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