Identifiers and Decals
Many countries, including the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, and several Canadian provinces have required GDL (Graduated Driver License) holders to identify their licensing status through the use of placards or decals (also known as L-plates and P-plates) that are highly visible on any vehicle they operate. While these provisions have been in place for decades, they are a new concept for GDL in the United States. To date, only New Jersey requires the use of decals by its learner and intermediate drivers.
The main purpose of decals is to aid with enforcement of GDL provisions among novice teen drivers. While numerous U.S. studies of GDL and specific GDL provisions have demonstrated GDL's effectiveness in reducing novice teen driver crashes, the effectiveness of GDL provisions overall has been limited by the inability of police to enforce them. Without an identifier, it is difficult for law enforcement officers to easily determine who is a learner or intermediate driver without a traffic stop and visual inspection of the license.
A recent CHOP evaluation of NJ's Decal provision, implemented in May 2010, confirmed that NJ youth and other road users are safer as a result of its implementation.
Published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the study provides initial evidence that use of the decals lowered intermediate driver crash rates by 9 percent and increased GDL citations by 14 percent during the first year of implementation. In fact, the researchers found that crash involvement of an estimated 1,624 intermediate drivers was prevented in the first year after the decal’s implementation.
For more information on decal requirements as part of GDL and other GDL initiatives, read this report from the Governors Highway Traffic Association—Curbing Teen Driver Crashes: An In-depth Look at the State of Novice Driver Initiatives.