Teens Cut Corners With GDL Laws, Survey Says


  • Teen Driver Picture

    Teen Driver Picture

    A new study reveals some bumps in the road for teen drivers and their parents when it comes to graduated driving license or GDL laws. | September 18, 2013

Just the Facts:
  • Teenagers are ignoring the boundaries of the graduated driving license (GDL) laws while fooling their parents about their law-breaking driving habits, a survey by State Farm reveals.
  • Nearly 70 percent of parents believe their teen driver almost always follows nighttime driving restrictions, while 48 percent of teens admit to almost always following this law.
  • For nighttime restrictions, 66 percent of parents said they almost always monitor if their teen obeys the restriction, while only 32 percent of teens stated their parents follow through.

BLOOMINGTON, Illinois — Teenagers are ignoring the boundaries of the graduated driving license (GDL) laws while fooling their parents about their law-breaking driving habits, a survey by State Farm reveals.

Nearly 70 percent of parents believe their teen driver almost always follows nighttime driving restrictions while 48 percent of teens admit to almost always following this law.

The teens ignore passenger restrictions as well, with 43 percent of teens stating they almost always follow this rule. Again, 70 percent of parents think their kids do.

Parents have become lax about monitoring their kids, the teens said. For nighttime restrictions, 66 percent of parents said they almost always monitor if their teen obeys the restriction while only 32 percent of teens stated their parents follow through.

Similarly, for passenger restrictions, 65 percent of parents said they almost always monitor their teens and only 27 percent of teens state their parents monitor their adherence to the law.

The disconnect continues in their beliefs about why the teens do not obey GDL laws, enacted in the mid-1990s to provide on-road experience introduced in phases in low-risk environments.

Thirty-four percent of parents listed peer pressure as the most likely reason teens do not follow GDL laws, whereas 32 percent of teens listed thinking police will not catch them as the most likely reason. Parents were significantly more likely than teens to list "safety" as the most important reason to follow GDL laws, with 89 percent vs. 51 percent, respectively.

The message about texting while driving is being heeded, but not as much as parents believe. Seventy-two percent of teens stated they almost always obey texting ban laws, substantially higher than any other GDL provision. More parents — 82 percent — think their teens almost always obey this law.

"Over the past two decades, some form of GDL has been passed in every state and teen crash fatalities have dropped substantially, but more still needs to be done to save lives," said Kendell Poole, chairman of the Governors Highway Safety Association, in a statement. "Parents play a key role in enforcing and monitoring GDL laws and helping teens become safe drivers. Parents should not rely solely on GDL to instill good driving habits; they have to step up as well."

State Farm conducted the online survey of 500 parents of teen drivers and an independent sample of 500 teen drivers from June 10-28, 2013. The sample balanced by gender and driver licensing status (learner's permit or driver's license).

Edmunds says: Teens need helicopter parents when it comes to learning to drive a car, the State Farm survey reveals.

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