Support Grows for National Teen Graduated Drivers License


Would a national law requiring graduated drivers licensing in all 50 states save lives? Backers of the STANDUP Act, including major insurer AllState, believe so, and they’re pushing for the reintroduction of the bill, which would create a standardized, federally administered program. Many supporters claim that restricting teen driving privileges would drastically reduce teen accidents. The positive outcome could be more affordable care insurance for teens.

Short for Safe Teen and Notice Driver Uniform Protection, the STANDUP Act (H.R. 1895) was first introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives in April 2009. A year later, the Senate introduced S. 3269, a nearly identical bill. The House bill was referred to the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit; the Senate bill was sent to the Committee on Environment and Public Works. By law at the end of the each congressional session bills and resolutions that haven’t passed are cleared from the books. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Representative Timothy Bishop, both Democrats from New York, are sponsoring reintroduction of STANDUP in the 112th Congressional session.

The new bill will likely contain the same provisions as the originals:

  • A 3-stage licensing process that includes a minimum 6-month learners permit no sooner than age 16. During Stage 1, teens would not be allowed to drive at night without adult supervision or use any form of communication device (e.g. cell phone) while driving. Nor could they drive with any passengers other than the adult supervisor.
  • An Intermediate Stage would stay in effect until age 18. The nighttime driving and cell phone prohibitions of Stage 1 would remain in effect. The teen would not be allowed to have more than one non-family passenger under age 21 without a licensed driver older than 21 in the car. At age 18, the teen would be eligible for a full-privilege license.
  • Additionally, it would give power to the Secretary of Transportation to introduce more restrictions or requirements during the learner’s permit stage.
  • States that comply with the law within 3 years of its enactment would be entitled to federal incentive grants. States that fail to comply would be subject to sanctions, which typically take the form of curtailed highway construction funding.

Supporters of the STANDUP Act cite National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics that new teen drivers are more likely to crash than other drivers, with 16-year olds having a crash rate three times greater than 17-year-olds and five times greater than 18-year-olds. 

Detractors say it’s unnecessary federal intrusion, since every state except North Dakota already has some form of three-stage graduated teen licensing program in place. They also claim is would place unfair burden on working teens and teens in rural areas. With gasoline prices soaring, the restriction on passengers would seem to carry an undue economic burden, as well.

To learn more about GDLs and their impact on affordable car insurance for teens, see our article, How To Lower Teen Car Insurance Quotes & Save Lives with Graduate Drivers Licenses.

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