Teens Skipping Florida GDL Program and Increasing Accident Risks

School is back in session and kids are back to the grind. With those late-night study sessions and long school hours, our teen drivers are at risk of fatigue behind the wheel.

This isn’t just a risk that our teenagers are facing. College students and even those older are facing the same risks. And it’s not just from fatigue — inexperience is the leading factor in serious or fatal accidents involving young drivers. That’s why officials with the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety are asking state lawmakers to make driving laws a little more applicable to those who wait to get their license. They’re asking that the graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) rules not pertain to a driver’s age, but to their experience. According to MSN, more teens graduate from high school without driver’s licenses, and when they do get their driver’s license they’re free from the regulations that are set for younger drivers.

Our Fort Lauderdale car accident lawyers understand that young licensed drivers ( through the state’s GDL program) are subjected to specific rules pertaining to the time they have to spend driving with adult supervision, nighttime restrictions, passenger restrictions and more. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), drivers must be at least 15-years-old to get a learner’s permit. Before they can get their driver’s license or a restricted license, they’re required to complete 12 months of a mandatory holding period and they have to complete 50 hours of supervised training (10 which must be completed at night).

During their restricted license stage, they are not allowed to drive between 11:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m. and 16-years-old and 1:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. for 17-years-old. Their nighttime restrictions are lifted at 18.

But teens have found the loophole and their bypassing all of these restrictions by just waiting to get their license. According to the recent study from AAA, only about 45 percent of teens surveyed got their driver’s license within the year of their state’s minimum age. Less than 55 percent got their driver’s license before they turned 18.

Children in low-income families were less likely than those in higher-income families to get their license early on. When teens bypass the state’s GDL program, they’re losing a significant segment of the learning process.

Back in March, officials with the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) released accident statistics for 16- and 17-year-old drivers. During the first six months of 2012, there were close to 250 teenage drivers killed in Florida. That’s a 20 percent increase from the year before and also a significant increase from 2010.

These GDL programs aren’t here to slow teens down or to hold them back. They’re here to protect our teens and to make the roads a little safer for everyone.

As a parent or guardian, make sure that you’re reviewing safe driving habits and techniques with your young driver on a regular basis, no matter how long they’ve had their license. It’s a move that could wind up saving their life.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a traffic accident, contact Richard Ansara at 954 761-3641 or toll-free at 877-277-3780 for a free initial consultation to discuss your case.

More Blog Entries:

Pedestrian and Bicyclist Hit by Nighttime Driver, Broward Injury Lawyer Blog, July 24, 2013

South Florida Pedestrian E.R. Visits on the Rise, Broward Injury Lawyer Blog, August 13, 2013

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