Effectiveness of GDL program targeting North Carolina teen drivers challenged by critics

Our North Carolina car accidents lawyers have been monitoring the ongoing debate regarding the effectiveness of the state’s graduated driver licensing (GDL) program for some time now. Proponents say that the step-up program – which incrementally reduces the number of restrictions on our youngest and most inexperienced drivers – is a life saver.

Critics suggest that program demands discourage drivers aged 16 to 18 from participating in the program. Then, once they turn 19, young drivers can simply skip the GDL phase entirely and choose to study for and pass the DMV road sign test and multiple-choice written exam to earn their driver’s license.
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In North Carolina, benchmarks for 15- to 18-year-old drivers who enroll in the GDL program can take two years to meet, and include the following restrictions and requirements (among others):
~ completion of a driver’s education course.

~ passing the written, visual, road sign and road tests.

~ driving only under the supervision of a parent, grandparent or legal guardian.

~ restricted night-time driving.

~ limiting the number of fellow teenagers permitted in the vehicle.

~ categorical seat-belt use requirement for driver and all passengers.

Whether an advocate or a proponent, one simple truth persists: fewer teens are pressing to get their driver’s licenses now than over the last 20 years, Auto Week reports. While the reasons for this can be haggled over, it is most commonly believed three main factors are playing a role keeping drivers aged 15-18 from getting behind the wheel.

First, there is social media and digital connection. Given the near constant connectedness that the electronic age affords this generation, kids can text, Skype and IM to stay connected. In short, they don’t need to drive.

Second, it’s the economy. With fewer drivers’ education programs offered at school, students and families are expected to foot the cost of off-campus driver’s education. Pair that cost with the price of gas, buying and maintaining a car and the up-to-50-percent increase that comes with adding a teen driver to a family insurance policy, and the price of freedom becomes too burdensome for kids to bear.

Third, the implementation of tighter regulatory controls, such as GDL programs, which, one way or another, remove our youngest – most inexperienced and least mature – drivers from the riskiest driving situations. Specifically, driving at night and driving with any number of their peers in the car.

We frequently report the dangers faced by teen drivers. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teens ages 16 to 20, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They simply cannot have too much training and parents cannot over-emphasize the need to remain safe behind the wheel. We encourage parents to speak to their children about driver safety often and to make it a routine part of their interaction with teen drivers.

North Carolina car accident attorneys with Lee & Smith understand that being involved in a serious or fatal car accident, or losing a loved one to a fatal car crash, can be physically, emotionally and financially devastating. We hope that if you are involved in a serious car accident you will call us at 1-800-887-1965 or email our law offices to schedule a free consultation to discuss your rights.

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