Recommended Minimum GDL Requirements
GDL requirements

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) programs are a proven strategy to prevent teen driver crashes. Teens need time to gain driving experience and to develop critical driving skills in lower-risk driving situations. States with comprehensive GDL programs generally have lower fatality rates than those with less robust ones.

As you begin on the path towards a driver’s license for the teen in your family, it’s important to understand how and why GDL requirements work to keep teens from crashing. It’s important to know the law in your state and the minimum provisions recommended by science so that you can make informed choices during the learning-to-drive process.

Research Informs Recommended GDL Policy

As part of Moving Forward for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21), Congress’ reauthorization for the US Department of Transportation, a set of minimum provisions for GDL were determined based on the current state of science in January 2013 (please refer to chart below).

More recent research from CHOP and others suggest additional ways states might boost the effectiveness of comprehensive GDL programs. For instance, research conducted by CIRP Principal Investigator Allison Curry, PhD, MPH and colleagues suggests that we could reduce crashes among older novice drivers if GDL policies extended the Intermediate License requirements to all novice drivers up to age 21.

Another way states could boost the effectiveness of GDL is through the requirement of a GDL vehicle identifier (or decal) on the outside of vehicles driven by Intermediate License holders. Only New Jersey currently requires a GDL decal. According to research conducted by Dr. Curry and colleagues, that state realized a sustained 9.5 percent decrease in their crash rates among Intermediate license holders after enacting Kyleigh’s Law in 2010.

Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Provisions
Stages of GDL
MAP-21 Recommended Provisions*
Boost Your GDL**
Stages of GDL
Learner’s Permit
MAP-21 Recommended Provisions*
  • Apply to any novice driver under 21 years of age
  • Minimum 6 month holding period; does not expire before age 16
  • Pass vision and knowledge tests
  • Adult licensed driver (at least 21 years old) must supervise new driver at all times
  • Minimum 40 hours of behind-the-wheel training
  • No use of wireless communications device while driving
  • Driver education and testing should be integrated into GDL
Boost Your GDL**
  • Require a GDL vehicle identifier/decal
  • Require more diversity of supervised driving practice environments as well as varied conditions
  • Increase access to and affordability of DE/Training options
Stages of GDL
Intermediate License
MAP-21 Recommended Provisions*
  • Completed a Learner’s Permit stage, passed driving skills test, and is conviction free for prior consecutive 6 months
  • Minimum 6 month holding period; does not expire before age 18
  • No more than one non-familial passenger younger than 21, unless accompanied by licensed driver at least 21 years old
  • No nighttime driving between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m.
  • No use of wireless communications device while driving
Boost Your GDL**
  • Require a GDL vehicle identifier/decal
  • Extend GDL Intermediate License to all novice drivers up to age 21
  • Require a minimum licensing age of 17 years
  • Require a minimum holding period of 12 months
Stages of GDL
Full License
MAP-21 Recommended Provisions*
  • Conviction free for prior consecutive 6 months
  • Must obey jurisdiction’s traffic laws and have clean driving record
  • No use of wireless communications device while driving

* Column reflects an abridged version of the MAP-21 provisions. Refer to for complete language

** Column reflects research conducted by CHOP and other leading teen driver safety research organizations.

Pick Your Practice

With a couple of clicks, think about what skills you would like to practice first as a learner driver, and we’ll point you to videos and tips on how to practice them. Take this online driving quiz to Pick Your Practice!

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