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Graduated driver licensing: what works?


Background: Graduated driver licensing (GDL) adds an intermediate stage to driver licensing between the learner permit and full licensure stages that is intended to ameliorate the high risk of novice drivers.

Objectives: To assess the contribution of various elements of GDL to reduction in the crash rates of young novice drivers.

Methods: An extensive review of the literature was undertaken to synthesise research findings on crash reduction.

Results: Increasing the length of the learner period and the amount practice required has reduced crash risk, partly through improved performance and partly by delaying licensure. Intervening early with traffic violators and making full licensure dependent on a clean driving record provide both general and specific deterrents to unsafe driving. Restrictions on night driving and carrying passengers are effective in reducing the increased risk of these situations. The benefits of multistage instruction and testing as well as the use of visible tags to identify novices have not as yet been adequately evaluated.

Conclusions: While graduated driver licensing has proven a generally effective means of reducing the crash risk of novice drivers, controlled research is needed to assess the benefits of its individual components.

  • graduated driving licensing
  • licensing practices
  • young drivers

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