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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Graduated Driver Licensing 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 driver's permit, a mandatory holding period or probationary license and a basic or full license.    

What does Maryland's GDL program entail?

Young Maryland drivers must:
  1. Be 15 years and 9 months old to obtain a permit
  2. Complete 60 hours of driving - 10 of which must be at night - over the next 9 months before obtaining an intermediate, or restricted, license at age 16 and 6 months
  3. Not drive unsupervised between midnight and 5 a.m. when a teen's crash risk is highest
  4. Not carry any passengers under 18 for the first 5months of the intermediate license phase
  5. Be 18 to obtain a basic, or full, license and have all restrictions lifted

Why does Maryland need a GDL program?

Motor vehicle crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens, and teens' crash risk is four times that of an experienced driver. The risk is highest when teens are in the first 12 to 24 months of licensure.
 
The "License to Save" report issued by The Allstate Foundation in December 2011 estimates that 2,417 people in Maryland have been killed in teen-related motor vehicle crashes since 1991. It also estimates that 90 lives have been saved since Maryland implemented GDL laws. The implementation of GDL programs has saved approximately 14,820 lives nationwide since 1991. It is a proven method 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 young passengers are a distraction for new drivers. A teen driver is twice as likely to crash while carrying just one passenger, regardless of whether the passenger is a friend of a sibling. Carrying two passengers increases crash risk by 158 percent, and three passengers increases risk by 207 percent.

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 Maryland does not allow teens on the roadways after midnight or before 5 a.m., parents are encouraged to set earlier times for their teens to be off the roads.

May teen drivers use hands-free cell phones?

No. Maryland has a complete ban on cell phone use for drivers in the learner's permit and intermediate licensing phases. All drivers in Maryland are prohibited from using a handheld device 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 skill 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 intoxicated, 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 skill and become good drivers for life.