What is California’s Graduated Drivers’ License program?

California was one of the first states to enact a Graduated Drivers’ License program for teenage drivers. This is one way of reducing teen driver accidents.

It is understandable that 16- and 17-year-old kids are not as mature as adults in California. This immaturity can naturally impact their driving and their ability to be safe on the roads, especially coupled with logical inexperience. The National Institute of Health notes that between 1996 and 2011, Graduated Drivers’ License programs were instituted throughout the country. California was one of the first states to create such a program in the late 1990s.

The goal of any Graduated Drivers’ License structure is to reduce accidents involving teen drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggests that such crashes have been reduced by as much as 50 percent thanks to GDL systems. Studies conducted by the NIH notes that fatalities in crashes with teen drivers have reduced by up to 14 percent.

What is a Graduated Drivers’ License?

Simply put, a GDL is a multi-tiered approach to being granted full and unrestricted driving privileges. The Governors Highway Safety Association explains that most GDL programs include three distinct stages. These start with a permit and supervised driving and end with a full unrestricted license.

In California, the Department of Motor Vehicles starts the process by allowing teens at least 15.5 years old who have completed an approved drivers’ education course to apply for a learner’s permit. The driver’s education course must consist of at least 30 hours of classroom instruction.

While holding a permit, a teen can only drive while supervised by a licensed driver 25 years of age or older. After turning 16, participating in at least six hours of professional driving training and driving a minimum of 50 supervised hours, 10 of which must have been done at night, a teenager can apply for a driver’s license.

What restrictions are placed on newly licensed teen drivers?

Upon receiving a driver’s license, a teenager is only allowed to have passengers under the age of 21 in a vehicle if there is also a passenger at least 25-years-old present. Additionally, newly licensed teens are not allowed to drive between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. These restrictions are lifted after 12 months.

Parents are also required to sign a document indicating that they accept financial responsibility for their teen driver.

What happens if a teen driver is involved in an accident?

Not every accident with a teenage driver is the teens fault but certainly some can be, even with California’s gradated approach to driving. Regardless of fault, those involved should always seek help from an attorney.

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