Graduated driver licensing in the United States: evaluation results from the early programs

J Safety Res. 2003 Jan;34(1):63-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-4375(02)00080-4.


Background: Seventeen states enacted graduated driver licensing (GDL) programs that were implemented from 1996 through 1999 and for which evaluations are of interest.

Methods: We received evaluation results reported for six states for which data were available. Summarizing results is difficult in other than the most global terms because of differences in pre-GDL programs, differences in GDL programs, and differences in evaluation methodology.

Results: All states identified some crash reduction among teen drivers following GDL implementation. This positive effect was observed across different geographic regions, and with different GDL programs. Simple counts are down-fewer teens are experiencing crashes and becoming injured. After calculating crash rates to adjust for changes over time in populations or licensed drivers, reductions generally were still found. Population-adjusted risks of injury/fatal crash involvement of 16-year-old drivers in Florida and Michigan were reduced by 11% and 24%, respectively. Population-adjusted risks of any crash involvement of 16-year-old drivers in Michigan and North Carolina were reduced by 25% and 27%, respectively. Reductions in night (restricted hours) crash risk were impressive in Florida, Michigan, and North Carolina. A comparison state design was only possible in the Florida evaluation, and results showed greater crash reductions under GDL. Change-point analyses of Michigan's crash data trends over time provided additional support of GDL's effectiveness in reducing crashes.

Discussion: Taken as a whole, and including the preliminary findings from California, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, these reports demonstrate the early effectiveness of GDL in reducing the crash risk of teen drivers. The impact of these studies and others to come will guide future research, practice, and policy.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Licensure / classification
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Reduction Behavior
  • United States