Over the past few years, states across the country have made a concerted effort to increase the safety of young drivers through the three-tier Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) programs. Currently, all 50 states have some form of GDL program in effect, requiring young drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 to obtain various milestone achievements in one license tier before being moved to the next licensing tier. Each tier offers young drivers more freedom, but the program ends at age 18.
According to one national insurance news report discussing the efficacy of the GDL programs, the implementation of the programs has led to a 30% decrease in fatal accident involving teens between the ages of 15 and 17 years old. Despite the program’s success with younger drivers, the report notes that drivers ages 18-20 still suffer from high accident rates. Part of the problem, the article claims, is the fact that one in three drivers do not even obtain a learner’s permit until after the age of 18, effectively removing them from the strictures of the program. This age group contains those who are perhaps the most likely to be talking on the phone or texting while driving, both of which are illegal in Maryland.
According to the report, the Governors’ Highway Safety Administration is recommending that the program include all drivers under the age of 21. Maryland is on the cutting edge of the move toward stricter driver training laws, requiring all novice drivers – regardless of age – to complete 30 hours of classroom training as well as six hours of training behind the wheel. However, despite the efforts of lawmakers, inexperienced drivers will still continue to cause a large percentage of the serious and fatal car accidents across Maryland.