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School of Public Health


Injury Control Research Center


Background: Young novice drivers have crash rates higher than any other age group. To address this problem, graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws have been implemented in the United States to require an extended learner permit phase, and create night time driving or passenger restrictions for adolescent drivers. GDL allows adolescents to gain experience driving under low-risk conditions with the aim of reducing crashes. The restricted driving might increase riding with parents or on buses, which might be safer, or walking or biking, which might be more dangerous. We examined whether GDL increases non-driver travels, and whether it reduces total travels combining drivers and non-drivers.

Methods: We used data from the US National Household Travel Survey for the years 1995–1996, 2001–2002, and 2008–2009 to estimate the adjusted ratio for the number of trips and trip kilometers made by persons exposed to a GDL law, compared with those not exposed.

Results: Adolescents aged 16 years had fewer trips and kilometers as drivers when exposed to a GDL law: ratio 0.84 (95 % confidence interval (CI) 0.71, 1.00) for trips; 0.79 (0.63, 0.98) for kilometers. For adolescents aged 17 years, the trip ratio was 0.94 (0.83, 1.07) and the kilometers ratio 0.80 (0.63, 1.03). There was little association between GDL laws and trips or kilometers traveled by other methods: ratio 1.03 for trips and 1.00 for kilometers for age 16 years, 0.94 for trips and 1.07 for kilometers for age 17.

Conclusions: If these associations are causal, GDL laws reduced driving kilometers by about 20 % for 16 and 17 year olds, and reduced the nu

Source Citation

Zhu, M., Cummings, P., Zhao, S., & Rice, T. (2016). The association between graduated driver licensing laws and travel behaviors among adolescents: an analysis of US National Household Travel Surveys. BMC Public Health, 16(1).


© 2016 The Author(s). Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

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