The Feasibility and Effectiveness of Provisional and Graduated Licensing Strategies as Alternatives to Full Licensing for Young Drivers in Virginia

Report No: 96-R12

Published in 1995

About the report:

In its 1995 session, the Virginia General Assembly passed House Bill 2320, which lowered the age at which persons could obtain a learner's permit from 15 years 8 months to 15 years. In the same session, the General Assembly passed House Joint Resolution Nol 571, which requested that the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) study the feasibility and desirability of establishing a provisional or graduated licensing program for young drivers in Virginia. The DMV requested that the Virginia Transportation Research Council (VTRC) conduct this study. The young driver problem was examined nationally and in Virginia. The various measures that could make up a young driver licensing system were highlighted, and their effectiveness in reducing crashes was noted. The licensing statutes of the 50 states were examined to see how other states address this problem, and a survey of state motor vehicle administrators was conducted to ensure that the programs were completely described. The survey also collected information on the costs of implementing the programs currently in use. Thirty-six states, including Virginia, have components of a young driver licensing program. Seven major measures for improving Virginia's program were identified: (1) nighttime driving restrictions, (2) a provisional licensing program with accelerated penalties, (3) a mandatory crash- and conviction-free period before granting full licensure, (4) passenger restrictions, (5) driver improvement programs, (6) primary enforcement of safety belt use, and (7) an increased licensure age. Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia require a learner's permit. Two major measures for improving Virginia's learner's permit process were identified: (1) a minimum holding period, and (2) increased qualifications for the accompanying driver.

Disclaimer Statement:The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


  • Charles E. Tompkins, Cheryl W. Lynn

Last updated: December 17, 2023

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