It is well documented that
motor vehicle collisions are the leading cause of fatalities in the United States, with young drivers
experiencing fatal crashes at significantly higher rates than older drivers.
This increase is typically caused by driver inexperience and the tendency
of adolescents to engage in higher-risk driving behaviors.
20 years ago, the
Teenage & Adult Driver Responsibility Act (TADRA) established graduated driver licensing for Georgians between the
ages of 15 to 18. TADRA directly addresses the leading killer of young
people – traffic crashes. The law changes how young motorists earn
and maintain the privilege of driving by providing a controlled means
for new drivers to gain experience and by reducing high-risk driving situations.
The law also contains provisions that affect drivers over 21, particularly
in the area of DUI prevention and enforcement.
How does TADRA change licensing requirements for young Georgia drivers?
The law requires young drivers to successfully pass through 3 steps to
achieve full licensure.
- Step 1: The Instructional Permit is available to persons age 15 and up
after passing a knowledge examination. While driving, the permit holder
must be accompanied by a licensed adult, 21 years of age or older, who
is capable of exercising control of the vehicle and who is sitting in
the front passenger seat.
- Step 2: The Provisional License is issued to 16- and 17-year-olds who have
held an Instructional Permit for one calendar year and a day, without
committing any major traffic violations, and have passed a road driving test.
- Step 3: The Full License is available to persons age 18 and up if there
have been no major traffic convictions for the previous 12 months.
How has TADRA changed the rate of deadly crashes involving young drivers
A study was led by
Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta. In the 2006 study, data from the
Fatal Accident Reporting System, managed by the federal government agency NHTSA, were used to calculate
annualized fatal crash rates of various age groups of drivers during an
11-year interval - 5½ years before TADRA was enacted, and 5½
The study showed that during the pre-enactment period, 317 Georgia drivers aged 16 were
involved in a fatal crash, compared to 230 in the post-enactment period.
Speed-related fatal crashes were reduced by 42%, and alcohol-related fatal
crashes decreased almost 60%.
What do these reduced numbers say about the TADRA Act and graduated driver
Clearly, the enactment of this law in Georgia has had a positive effect
on the driving behaviors and safety of young drivers. Currently, all 50
states and the District of Columbia have some form of GDL program. However,
according to the
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, if every state adopted the strictest limitations, the nation would reduce
the number of crashes each year by more than 9,500 and save more than