For a teenager, getting a driver's license is a major life event. It can also be major as a parent. This event marks your teenager on the verge of becoming a young adult and wanting their independence. The ability to break free from mom behind the wheel of her minivan, school drop-offs, and having to text every time they need a ride gives your teenager has a new sense of freedom.
With their new sense of freedom comes serious responsibility. Auto accidents are the number one cause of teen fatalities in the U.S. The inexperience of a new driver combined with underestimating potentially dangerous situations increases the teen's accident risk.
In an effort to curb teen driving accidents, injuries, and fatalities, many states adopted new laws to help teens become safe drivers. Known as Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs, the laws that now govern most teen drivers have helped to provide teens with more experience and reduce some of the driving risks. If you have a teen, take a look at what you need to know about GDL programs.
Different States, Different Names
The name Graduated Driver Licensing is an umbrella term given to teen and new driver programs across the U.S. Different states often have their own specific names for these programs. In Georgia, the GDL program is known as the Teenager and Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) or Joshua's Law. But in Alabama, the state refers to this program as a Graduated Drivers License.
Other states may call this program by the act/law's name (such as in Georgia) or give teens "junior" licenses.
Instructional and Learner's Permits
The idea behind a graduated license system is to gradually ease teens into driving. Instead of granting new young drivers full privileges immediately, states with GDL laws require teens to complete steps or stages.
The law typically requires a three-step process, starting with an instructional or learner's permit. Teens must pass a written knowledge examination to qualify for a permit. The specific age that a teen can apply for a learner's permit varies by state. If you (and your teen) live in Georgia or Alabama, that age is 15 years old. But if you live in another state, such as Pennsylvania, your teen may need to wait until they're 16.
During the instructional/learner's permit phase, the teen may not drive by themselves. The teen gains vital driving skills under the direct supervision of a responsible adult during this time. Adults accompanying learner permitted teen drivers must also hold a valid driver's license themselves (and meet age requirements).
During this time, young drivers may have to keep a log of their practice time. This may include a set number of total driving hours as well as experience driving at night or under inclement weather conditions.
The Next Step
The second stage of most GDL programs includes a restricted or intermediate license. In many states, teens between 16 and 18 can qualify for this type of license. After passing a driving road test, the restricted/intermediate license allows teens to drive without adult supervision. But the teen doesn't have full driving privileges yet.
Depending on the state, the law places restrictions on the hours when a teen may drive. The state may also limit how many other (unrelated) teens are allowed in the car with the intermediate or restricted license holder.
These restrictions gradually change as the teen learns and demonstrates responsibility behind the wheel. Georgia teens may not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. During the first six months after receiving an intermediate license, they can't have any non-family member passengers. Teens are allowed one non-familial passenger in the following six months. After this they are allowed up to three nonfamilial passengers in the car who are under 21 (until they get to the next stage of their licensing).
The Full License
Provided that the teen has met all the requirements set forth in their state's first two licensing steps, they can apply for a full license when they turn 18. This grants the driver the same license as an adult, meaning that there are no additional steps to take.
Do you have a teen driver? Southern Harvest insurance Agency can make sure they meet their insurance requirements.