State GDL Program Questioned: Reducing Risks for Car Accidents in Missouri?

State GDL Program Questioned: Reducing Risks for Car Accidents in Missouri?

In Missouri, a teen can start driving on our roadways at the age of 15 with a supervising, licensed driver over the age of 21. This is all a part of the state’s Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program.

The GDL program aims to introduce driving scenarios to young drivers through a number of restrictive stages in an effort to reduce their risks of a car accident in Missouri. The problem with this system, according to CNN Health, is that new studies are proving that it’s creating higher risks of accidents for 18-year-old, fully licensed drivers.


Our St. Louis teen car accident attorneys understand that new data, collected from 1986 to 2007, reveals that 16-year-olds face 26 percent fewer accidents in states with strict GDL programs. The problem with this is that 18-year-old drivers in these same areas experience a 12 percent increase in the number of fatal accidents compared to those with less strict programs.

“Right now, we’re not getting the net effect across all teens that we’re hoping for,” says Scott V. Masten, Ph.D., an author of the recent study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

In Missouri, there were nearly 200 teenagers killed in car accidents in 2009, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Researchers believe that this increase among our 18-year-old drivers has to do with the restrictions that were placed on them when they were younger drivers. These restrictions, researchers believe, kept the young drivers from obtaining a thorough and realistic driving experience.

There are GDL programs in every state, but restriction vary from one to another.

Missouri GDL program:

-Instructional Permit, 15-years-old: Under this license, a driver must complete a written driver’s exam at a Missouri State Highway Patrol exam station. Once passed, a teen can then drive with a parent, a legal guardian or a certified instructor through a Federal Residential Job Training Program. Parents are to make sure that their young driver completes at least 40 hours of driving practice with at least 10 of these hours occurring during the nighttime. Seats belts must be worn by all passengers riding with this driver.

-Intermediate License, 16-years-old: To get this license, a driver must have held the instructional permit for at least 6 months. The student must have completed the supervised driving time before obtaining this license. A clean record of alcohol-related offenses must be obtained within the 12 months before this license. A clean record to traffic convictions must also be obtained for 6 months prior. A driver must pass a road sign and vision test. The teen must complete another 40 hours of supervised driving during this stage. For the first 6 months, there can be no more than 1 passenger under the age of 19 in the vehicle at a time.

-Unrestricted License, 18-years-old: The teen must have one-full year free of alcohol-related offenses before applying. All prior requirements must be met. A vision and a road sign recognition test must be passed again.

Regardless of which stage your young driver is in, it is important to keep safe driving habits and skills as a frequent topic of conversation. No driver is ever experienced enough to avoid a car accident. Reiterate the rules of the road and the importance to safe habits to your teen long after they’ve graduated from the GDL program.

Additional Resources:

Teen restrictions fail to curb fatal crashes, by Amanda Gardner, CNN Health

More Blog Entries:

Governors Highway Safety Association Targets Distracted Driving Car Accidents in Missouri, St. Louis Car Accident Lawyer Blog, July 27, 2011

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Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC

Ryan R. Cox & Associates, LLC is a litigation law firm that represents individuals and families in serious personal injury and wrongful death claims throughout Missouri. We help people who have been injured in all types of accidents—including car or truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and fall accidents, and much more. Whether your injury is something that can cause long-term issues like a brain injury or spinal cord injury, or it is something you’ll likely make a full recovery from, we are here to help.

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