Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL)

What is the Graduated Driver License program?

First implemented in Michigan and Florida in the mid-1990s, Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) is a three-step system designed to provide novice drivers with the necessary tools to be safe on our roadways and minimize those things that cause them the greatest risk of crash -- distraction caused by passengers and the use of cell phones and other electronic devices, as well as driving late at night and riding unbelted. There is a minimum age for teens to be eligible for a learner's permit, then a probationary license period, and finally a basic or full license.  

What does Florida's GDL program entail?  

  • You must be 15 years old to obtain a learner's permit and hold it for at least 12 months conviction free.
  • During those 12 months, teens must complete at least 50 hours of driving practice, 10 of which must be at night.
  • 16 year olds are not permitted to drive without a licensed driver 21 years of age or older between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m unless they are going to and from work. 
  • 17 year olds are not permitted to drive between 1 a.m. and  5 a.m. without a licensed driver 21 years of age or older unless they are going to and from work.
  • Be 18 years old to obtain a full, unrestricted license 

Why does Florida need a GDL program?

Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in Florida and the United States, and their crash risk is four times that of an experienced driver. 

The “License to Save” report issued by The Allstate Foundation and the National Safety Council in December 2011 estimates that 11,322 people have been killed in teen-related motor vehicle crashes in Florida since 1991, and it estimates that 911 lives have been saved since Florida implemented GDL laws. The implementation of GDL programs has saved approximately 14,820 lives since 1991. It is proven to reduce the number of motor vehicle crashes involving teen drivers.

Why are passengers dangerous for teen drivers?

Most teen crashes involve some form of distraction, and passengers are particularly distracting to young drivers. A teen driver is twice as likely to be killed in a crash while carrying just one passenger, regardless of whether the passenger is a friend or a sibling. Carrying two passengers increases crash risk by 158 percent, and three passengers increases risk by 207 percent. While Florida law currently does not include any passenger restrictions, parents should limit the number of passengers their teen driver can transport.

Why is nighttime driving risky for teen drivers?

Forty percent of all teen driver fatal crashes occur between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m. While Florida has a nighttime restriction, parents are encouraged to set an earlier time for their teen to be off the road.

May teen drivers use hands-free cell phones?

Florida currently does not have a cell phone ban of any kind for motorists of any age or level of experience. Research clearly shows that both handheld and hands-free devices cause manual, cognitive, and visual distraction, and the National Safety Council and the National Transportation Safety Board have called for a nationwide ban on all cell phone for all motorists while driving.

How can I help a teen driver gain more experience?

Research clearly shows that GDL programs are the most effective tool for addressing teen crash risk because they help novice drivers build skills while minimizing risk. Whether you’re a parent, teacher, coach, older sibling, neighbor, or friend, learning about and enforcing the GDL program is important. 

Parents, in particular, play a critical role in teen driver safety. Teens who report having parents that set rules and monitor their activities in a helpful and supportive way are half as likely to crash, 71 percent less likely to drive impaired, 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving, and 50 percent more likely to wear a safety belt. By partnering with parents, you can help to ensure that they know about and leverage the proven principles of GDL so their teens gain skills and become good drivers for life.

Contact us

National Safety Council

1121 Spring Lake Dr.Itasca, IL 60143-3201[email protected]General Info: (800) 621-7615