It's no secret that teen drivers tend to be some of the worst drivers on Texas roads. They are novices, learning how to drive one mistake at a time. Most teenage drivers want to drive well, but they need time to learn. That is where graduated driver's license laws come in to play - they create restrictions to help drivers while protecting everyone else on the road.
GDLs save lives. More than 5,000 teenagers die in car accidents in the United States every year (many of them in Texas), but that number is going down, thanks to GDLs. According to the Centers for Disease Control, the number of teen driving fatalities decreased by 33 percent between 2004 and 2008.
What Are Texas' Graduated Driver's License Laws?
Texas' graduated driver license (GDL) program went into effect in 2002. There are two parts to the program: A learner license and a restricted license.
Anyone under the age of 18 must hold a learner license (also called a hardship license) for at least six months. During that time, he or she must drive with someone who is at least 21 years old. If the learner license is suspended or revoked for any reason, the driver must start this six-month period over again.
The new driver can obtain a provisional license once he or she completes the six months required for the learner license, reaches 16 years of age, and completes all classroom and driving components to driver's education.
A new driver must hold a provisional license for one year before receiving a full driver's license. The provisional license:
- Prevents a driver from driving more than one passenger at a time who is under 21 and not a family member
- Requires the driver to have a parent or guardian in the car if he or she wishes to drive between 12:00 a.m. and 5:00 a.m. unless driving is required for a job, school or a medical emergency
- Forbids a driver from using a cell phone while driving (except for emergencies)
Once a driver completes both phases of the GDL program, the restrictions no longer apply.
Of course, even laws cannot prevent car accidents. Teen drivers will make mistakes, and those mistakes may be deadly or lead to serious injuries. If you were injured in a car accident caused by a teenage driver or your teenager was injured, you may be able to recover compensation for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.
Source: Texas Department of Public Safety, " Graduated Driver License Program," 2011.