Age for Learner's Permit
Currently the age requirement for earning a learner's permit varies by state and ranges from 14 to 16 years of age. Growing evidence and expert consensus support raising the age to 16 for beginning the learner's permit phase under GDL recommendations. As shown in the chart below from a 2007 study published in the Journal of Safety Research, a higher risk of dying in a crash is associated with both an earlier learner's permit and licensure age.
Risk of Crashing By Learner’s Permit Entry Age
Source: Preusser, DF and Tison, J. (2007) Journal of Safety Research, 38, 159-163 9
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) conducted further studies that support this provision. After reviewing 11 international studies to separate the effects of driver age and inexperience on crash risk, IIHS found that both contribute. Although the effect of inexperience is stronger, age does matter. According to the study, 16-year-old new drivers have a higher crash risk than 17-year-old new drivers. This evidence supports raising the probationary/intermediate licensing age to 17.
Another study, published in the July 6, 2006 issue of Pediatrics, found 3-phase GDL systems that allow teen drivers to gradually gain experience reduce fatal crashes for 16-year-old drivers by 11 percent. Motor vehicle crashes remain the number one cause of death for adolescents. Teen drivers (ages 16 to 19) are involved in fatal crashes at four times the rate of adult drivers (ages 25 to 69).