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Effectiveness: 5 Star Cost: $
Use: High
Time: Medium

With a learner’s permit, novices can drive when accompanied by an adult supervisor. The learner’s permit allows and encourages beginning drivers to acquire substantial supervised driving experience. To aid this, most States require the learner’s permit to be held for a minimum period of time, and most require a minimum number of supervised driving hours. Surveys show that parents/guardians and teenagers strongly support the learner’s permit holding period and supervised driving requirements (Block & Walker, 2008; Mayhew, 2003; McKay et al., 2008; Williams, 2011; Williams et al., 2011).


As of November 2021, 48 States and the District of Columbia required learner’s permits to be held for at least 6 months, with 7 of these States requiring a minimum holding period of a full year. However, 2 States (Connecticut and South Dakota) reduce the required length of time for a permit to be held if the young driver completes driver’s education (IIHS, 2021b).


Since learner’s permit drivers are being supervised, it is not surprising that crash rates during the learner’s permit period are very low (Mayhew et al., 2003), with learner drivers having rates of crashes/near-crashes and risky driving like adults (Gershon et al., 2018). For young drivers holding their first unsupervised license, the available evidence suggests that crash rates decreased after jurisdictions with no learner’s permit holding requirement implemented a 6-month requirement (Ehsani et al., 2013; Mayhew, 2003). Moreover, longer permit holding periods appear to result in even larger crash reductions. Masten et al. (2013) found that a 9- to 12-month leaner’s permit holding period resulted in 26% lower fatal crash incidence among 16-year-old drivers and 17% lower incidence among 17-year-olds compared to requiring learner permits for up to 4 months.          


Once GDL is in place, requirements for the learner’s permit can be implemented at very little cost.

Time to implement:

GDL requirement changes typically require about 6 months to notify the public and implement the changes.