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Graduated Driver Licensing Information for Teens

GDL helps teens sharpen their driving skills during the first year of licensure by limiting exposure to high-risk situations, such as carrying teen passengers, driving at night, and texting while driving.

  • Why does GDL only apply to teen drivers?
    • Teenage drivers have more crashes than any other age group. During their first year of driving, one of every four 16-year-olds gets a ticket or is involved in a crash. Since GDL was passed, the number of fatal crashes involving 16- and 17-year-old drivers has been cut nearly in half.
  • Why are teen drivers so bad?
    • Teen drivers aren’t bad – they are inexperienced. Even the best teen drivers can get into trouble in a hurry when driving a vehicle weighing thousands of pounds that is traveling at 70 mph. GDL reduces the risks for young drivers by phasing in driving privileges as they gain experience behind the wheel.
  • Why can’t my friends ride with me?
    • Research shows that teen drivers are more likely to crash if there are passengers in the car, especially if the passengers are other teens. Driving is more complicated than it looks, so for the first six months, only one passenger at a time is allowed unless the passenger lives in the driver’s home or is at least 21 years old and is fully licensed.
  • Why can’t I drive any time I want?
    • Driving at night is more dangerous for drivers of any age. Low visibility, bright headlights on oncoming cars, and fatigue combine to make nighttime driving more hazardous than daytime driving. GDL lessens the risk by limiting driving hours to after 5:00 in the morning until 11:00 at night during the first six months. Driving is allowed at other times only if the activity is related to school, church, or work, or if a fully licensed passenger at least 21 years old is seated beside the driver.
  • I just got my license – I can’t wait to call my friends!
    • If you are behind the wheel – you have to wait to call your friends. As mentioned earlier, driving is complicated. Using a cell phone while driving causes several distractions at once. You take your eyes off the road, your hand off the wheel, and you are concentrating on the conversation instead of on driving. This is true for drivers of any age, but it is illegal for drivers under age 18 to use any hand-held device while operating a motor vehicle. The only exception is a life-threatening emergency.

More Driver Safety Tips for Teens

  • Wear a seat belt – every trip – every person in the car.
    • Even low-speed crashes create violent crash forces that affect a person’s unrestrained body. You could be thrown against the inside of the car, against other people, or completely out of the car where the car could land on top of you. But if you and your passengers are wearing seat belts, your chances of surviving a crash with minimal injury are greatly improved.
  • Don’t drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
    • In Oklahoma, it is illegal for a person under age 21 to purchase alcohol or to drive after consuming any alcohol. Even prescription medicines or over-the-counter medications taken in the proper dosage can impair you as much as alcohol or illegal drugs. Every state has zero tolerance laws; every driver simply must be clean and sober.
  • Obey the speed limit.
    • Speed limits are set based on careful calculations on what speed is generally safe on that particular stretch of road under a variety of conditions. Getting to your destination alive is much more important than getting there fast.
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