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Advocates push for GDL funding to curb car accidents

Have you ever heard of graduated driver licensing? It's an effort to gradually introduce teenagers to driving, and its aim is to reduce car accidents and injuries. Experts say it works, and now more advocates are pushing for millions of dollars in funding for such programs.

According to an article in the USA Today, a report indicates that 2,000 lives could be saved in the U.S. each year if every state instituted GDL programs. The numbers are even broken down by state. According to the report, Tennessee could see 57 lives saved per year.

There are several key elements in GDL programs, and at this point only two states have implemented all of them. Here they are:

• Minimum age of 16 for a learner's permit

• Minimum age of 17 for a full driver's license

• Nighttime driving restrictions beginning at 10 p.m. for drivers with intermediate licenses

• Six months before unsupervised driving

• Minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving during learner's permit stage

• Intermediate license at age 16 ½ minimum

• Only one non-family passenger for drivers with intermediate licenses

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in this country. And for every mile driven, those ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to be involved in a crash.

While every state has some form of GDL, advocates are pushing for national funding. But, they're facing opposition from youth groups, including the National Youth Rights Association. Time will tell whether federal lawmakers decide to make GDL a more national issue.

Source: USA Today, "Study: Phased-in teen driving privileges could save 2,000," Larry Copeland, Dec. 6, 2011

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