June 6th, 2012 - by DKRPA
Florida has a version of the graduated driver license system, which begins with a learner’s permit (no driving after 10 p.m., must have someone who is at least 21 years old with a driver’s license in the car) and progresses to an intermediate license after one year.
That license has a variety of restrictions (including a required 50 hours of driving experience, 10 of which must be at night, and varying hour limitations on the driver depending on the driver’s age). The GDL system is meant to cut back on the number of car accidents that involve teenage drivers; slowly introducing them to the road under proper supervision, and then letting them drive after they’ve become experienced enough to handle a vehicle on their own.
GDL laws are being credited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety for reducing the fatality rate of 16-year-olds by 68% from 1996 to 2010. However, they have a concern about a couple of states — South Dakota and Iowa.
Both allow 14-year-olds to obtain a learner’s permit, with South Dakota adding a provision that allows the youngsters to get their full license three months after they turn 14. There could be a couple of reasons for this: as both states have low populations and lots of farmland, the states feel there should not be as many restrictions on obtaining a license.
In any case, the IIHS is worried about these lax license guidelines. They say that if every state adopted optimal GDL programs for teenagers between the ages of 15 and 17, it could save 500 lives and prevent 9,500 car accidents every year.
Source: USA Today, “Is it time to ban driver’s licenses for 14-year-olds?,” Colin Bird, June 4, 2012