Well known as a model for teen driving safety, the Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) Program has significantly reduced the number of fatalities associated with teen drivers since it was implemented in 2008. With approximately 60 percent fewer deaths, the GDL program is proven to be effective at making Illinois streets safer for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians alike.

Automobile crashes are the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 20, and approximately one in five licensed drivers who are 16 years old are involved in a car accident. Driver distraction and impaired driving are major contributors to the number of teen driving accidents, and the tendency to take risks and lack of driver inexperience both play significant roles as well. To address the factors associated with the high crash rate among young drivers, Illinois developed the state’s GDL Program.

What Is the Illinois GDL Program?

The program, which has gained national attention and becomes a model for other states in recent years, enables teens to more thoroughly develop their driving skills as they progress through various stages to obtain an unrestricted driver’s license. The Illinois GDL program does not increase the minimum age required for young drivers to obtain a regular driver’s license. Those who complete the required instruction permit phase and pass an approved driver education program may still be able to become licensed drivers at the age of 16. For those drivers between the ages of 18 and 20 who have not successfully completed an approved driver education program, a six-hour course is required before a driver’s license can be obtained.

  • During the first phase of the program, young drivers face nighttime driving restrictions, the number of passengers allowed is limited, and 50 hours of supervised driving must be completed. The permit must be held for at least six months and is valid for up to two years.
  • Upon completion of phase one, drivers age 16-17 move on to phase two. They still face nighttime driving limits and the number of passengers is still limited, however, they are no longer required to have a licensed driver 21 or older in the front seat.
  • When the second phase is completed, the driver moves on to a full driver’s license with no age-related restrictions.

Even with the GDL program, younger drivers are still involved in a large number of car accidents that result in serious injuries or death.