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Hospitalizations and medical expenses reduced for young drivers in North Carolina’s driver licensing system

When the state adopted the Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program in 1997, North Carolina became the second state in the country to utilize this system designed to reduce young driver crashes. A widely-supported venture, GDL is now being credited with a decrease in hospitalizations and medical expenses among young drivers in North Carolina, according to a new study published in the February edition of Traffic Injury Prevention. The article was authored by Dr. Lewis Margolis of the University of North Carolina Department of Maternal and Child Health, in collaboration with Scott V. Masten and Dr. Robert Foss of the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center.

“These findings confirm what was expected, but until now was not documented: that GDL is producing substantial cost savings as well as reducing deaths and injuries,” said Dr. Foss. “And these findings only address one small part of crash-related costs. Others like insurance expenses, vehicle repair costs, and health care costs have undoubtedly declined as well since GDL was implemented.”

The Effects of Graduated Driver Licensing on Hospitalization Rates and Charges for 16- and 17-year-Olds in North Carolina, sponsored by State Farm Insurance Company and the federal Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, concluded that in the 46 months following the implementation of GDL, hospitalizations of 16-year-old drivers declined by 36 percent, consequently reducing hospital charges by 31 percent, or about $650,000 per year. The study cited some decline in hospitalizations among 17-year-old drivers who had been in the GDL program, but the reductions were not statistically significant.

Through a three-level process, GDL is a program designed to gradually increase a beginning driver’s responsibilities, allowing new drivers to become more familiar with common driving situations, as well as the complexities of driving.

GDL programs are currently used in 45 states and the District of Columbia.

The University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center
730 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd, Suite 300  |  Campus Box 3430  |  Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3430
Phone: 919.962.2203  |  Fax: 919.962.8710