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Compliance with and Enforcement of Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Provisions

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs--which include limitations on passengers and nighttime driving restrictions during the first year of licensure--are a cornerstone of public policy aimed at reducing the burden of crashes on adolescent health. Further reductions in teen crash rates will rely on strengthening specific provisions of GDL, as well as greater compliance with and enforcement of GDL provisions. Thus, the Teen Driver Safety Research team at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia has focused efforts to inform how best to improve GDL policy.

GDL Compliance Among Intermediate Licensed Drivers

In a recent paper published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH and her coauthors reported the first population-level estimate of young intermediate drivers' compliance with GDL. To do so, they used a novel application of the quasi-induced exposure technique, a method that has been developed to estimate driving exposure in the absence of more detailed information. This unique approach complements other current methods like naturalistic studies and paves the way for accurately measuring and improving GDL compliance and enforcement in the future.  

For this study, the research team linked New Jersey’s licensing and crash record databases (July 2010 through June 2012), looking at data from 32,203 drivers and 30,594 crashes. They then focused on non-responsible crash-involved intermediate drivers to determine rates of compliance with two GDL provisions—passenger limits and nighttime driving.

Key Results
  • On the vast majority of trips, intermediate license holders in New Jersey comply with the passenger and nighttime restrictions of the state’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program.
    • More than 91 percent of young driver trips follow the state’s passenger restriction.
    • Nearly 97 percent comply with the nighttime restriction.
  • Although most young driver trips comply, 30,000 to 40,000 trips per day are still not in compliance with the passenger restriction and over 15,000 trips per day are not in compliance with the nighttime restriction, suggesting further work is needed to improve compliance. (Access the infographic on this page to learn more.)
  • The proportion of crash-involved intermediate drivers that did not follow the restrictions who were issued a GDL citation was low (10.3 percent for non-responsible drivers and 19 percent for responsible drivers).
  • Enforcement rates were also highest among the youngest drivers: 18 percent of 17-year-old drivers known to be non-compliant with the GDL passenger restriction were issued a citation compared with 3 percent of 19-year-olds.

This project is supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development at the National Institutes of Health.

For more information on these studies, please contact Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH at (215) 590-3118 or



Compliance with GDL infographic

Access and share an infographic about the research.

Promote GDL Compliance

  • Counsel law enforcement and parents to be especially mindful during the summer and on weekends.
  • Encourage parents to set house rules that align with GDL. Learn more.
  • Educate teens at higher risk of not complying with GDL (males, those living in lower socioeconomic areas) on the purpose and benefits of following GDL. Learn more.
  • Help teens avoid higher risk driving situations by providing alternative ways to get to school or work. Learn more.
  • Advocate for stronger GDL provisions in your state. Learn more.

Read a press release about the research.

Read about related research.

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