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Decals and Teen Drivers

In Illinois, a person who is under the age of 18 and who violates the nighttime driving restriction may have his or her driving privileges suspended. This is one aspect of the Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. GDL programs are in place in a number of states across the country. A common problem in many of these states is enforcement. Adult drivers are allowed to drive at night. They are not restricted in the number of passengers they may carry under a certain age. These restrictions are solely the province of young drivers subject to the GDL guidelines. One way to assist police in enforcing the provisions of a GDL is to also require that applicable drivers display a decal, indicating their status. New Jersey became the first state to require such a decal in 2010. Recent research has indicated that the decal program positively impacts teen driver safety.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2015, crash rates for teen drivers dropped in the two years following passage of the decal provision. For 17-year-old drivers, the rate of car crashes dropped 13.3 percent. For 19-year-olds, the rate of car accidents fell 8.5 percent. The falling crash rates were accompanied by an increase in the number of citations issued by police for violations of the GDL rules. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention lists motor vehicle accidents as the top cause of death among teens. Despite wide-ranging efforts to combat teen driving accidents, crash rates have remained stubbornly high. Drivers between 16 and 19 suffer traffic fatalities at rates nearly three times that of older drivers. Decals are one way to help police enforce the GDL guidelines designed to help young drivers acclimate to the realities of safe driving.

Source: Journalist's Resource, "Teen drivers: Changes in crash rates after requiring Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) decals," by Lauren Leatherby, 25 January 2016 

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