California’s Graduated Driver License Law

Effects on Older Teenagers

  • Mike Males Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice


Many traffic safety researchers believe Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws save lives by imposing restrictions, stronger licensing requirements, and delayed licensure status on drivers under age 18. To determine the effects of California’s GDL law on traffic fatalities among older (age 18-19) and younger (age 16-17) teens by age, sex, accident characteristics, and license status, mortality data from California’s Center for Health Statistics, driver and accident data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, and population data from the California Department of Finance were analyzed for the 1995-2004 period. Compared to California who began driving before the GDL law took effect and to corresponding trends among Californians ages 20 through 44, 16- and 17-year-olds subject the GDL law experienced net decreases of 13% in motor vehicle fatality rates and 14% in driver involvements in fatal accidents. However, 18- and 19-year-olds subjected to GDL programs experienced net increases of 11% in traffic fatalities and 10% in involvements of drivers in fatal accidents, more than offsetting the declines among younger teenagers. These results support reassessment of the effects of the GDL law, including its specific requirements, on older teenagers.
How to Cite
Males, M. (2006). California’s Graduated Driver License Law: Effects on Older Teenagers. Californian Journal of Health Promotion, 4(3), 207-221.