Support for Graduated Driver Licensing
Two recent public opinion surveys point to widespread support for graduated driver licensing. A 1996 public opinion poll conducted by the American Automobile Association found that nearly three out of four respondents favor limiting the use of cars by 15-to-20-year-olds until they gain sufficient driving experience.
In 1995, the Public Attitude Monitor, an annual poll conducted by the Insurance Research Council, asked respondents to rate various suggestions for reducing auto crashes among young drivers. A graduated driver licensing program was considered a "good" or "excellent" idea by nearly 45 percent of all respondents, while 75 percent of the parents of teenagers liked the idea. Nighttime driving restrictions and zero alcohol tolerance ranked about the same. Interestingly, nearly half of all respondents thought raising the driving age to 18 was a "good" or "excellent" idea (the rate was 60 percent for parents of teenagers).3
It may be surprising to learn that teenagers accept and support graduated driver licensing at fairly high levels. Teenagers in New Zealand were interviewed at age 15 (before they received their license) and again at age 18. At both ages, more than 70 percent of them supported the driving restrictions in place. Sixty-seven percent of Nova Scotia teens with restricted licenses said they approved of the graduated driver licensing system. In general, older teens looking back on their inexperienced years are even more supportive than those currently under restrictions.
Parents often look forward to the time when their teenager is licensed so they are released from the burden of chauffeuring their children to school, jobs, sports and other activities. But parents also recognize that teen drivers are at risk, no matter how "good" their children otherwise might be. Support for graduated driver licensing and its components is generally high among parents of teenagers.
In 1994, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety surveyed parents of 17-year-olds and found that:
As noted above under Public Opinion, parents of teenagers gave higher than average ratings to all suggestions for lowering teen auto crashes, including graduated driver licensing.
Support also is strong among law enforcement agencies, the medical community and within state, county and local governments. (See "Who Supports Graduated Driver Licensing?" below).