Graduated driver licensing and safer driving

J Safety Res. 2003 Jan;34(1):85-9. doi: 10.1016/s0022-4375(02)00084-1.


Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) inserts between the leaner permit and full licensure an intermediate or "provisional" license that allows novices to drive unsupervised but subject to provisions intended to reduce the risks that accompany entry into highway traffic. Introduction of GDL has been followed by lowered accident rates, resulting from both limiting exposure of novices to unsafe situations and by helping them to deal with them more safely. Sources of safer driving include extended learning, early intervention, contingent advancement, and multistage instruction. To extend the learning process, most GDL systems lengthen the duration of the learner phase and require a specified level of adult-supervised driving. Results indicate that extended learning can reduce accidents substantially if well structured and highly controlled. Early intervention with novice traffic violators have shown both a general deterrent effect upon novice violators facing suspension and a specific effect upon those who have experienced it. Making advancement to full licensure contingent upon a violation-free record when driving on the provisional license has also evidenced a reduction in accidents and violations during that phase of licensure. Multistage instruction attempts development of advanced skills only after novices have had a chance to master more basic skills. Although this element of GDL has yet to be evaluated, research indicates crash reduction is possible in situations where it does not increase exposure to risk. While the various elements of GDL have demonstrated potential benefit in enhancing the safety of novice drivers, considerable improvement in the nature and enforcement of GDL requirements is needed to realize that potential.

MeSH terms

  • Accidents, Traffic / prevention & control*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Automobile Driving / education
  • Automobile Driving / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Licensure / classification
  • Licensure / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Safety*
  • United States