Americans Support National Law on Teen Driving: Survey

August 9, 2011

Nearly six in 10 Americans favor a federal law that would impose driving restrictions on teen drivers and institute a graduated driving license system.

A recent national survey from Allstate Insurance shows that support for a national graduated driver licensing (GDL) law corresponds with low opinions about teen driving skills, which received the lowest ranking among all ages surveyed.

Currently, the Safe Teen and Novice Driver Uniform Protection (STANDUP) Act is pending in Congress as part of a broader bill known as Mariah’s Law, named after an Arkansas teen killed in a crash involving texting.

STANDUP would restrict nighttime driving, limit the number of passengers in a teen’s car, prohibit the use of cell phones while driving, and issuance of permits and licenses with specific age requirements through a gradual, multi-phased process.

When asked about the specific provisions included in the STANDUP Act, Americans said they favor the policies. Findings include:

  • Seventy-six percent back a minimum age of 16 to receive a learner’s permit, and 69 percent favor requiring three stages of licensing.
  • Seven in 10 Americans favor restricting unsupervised nighttime driving for those under age 18, and 65 percent support restricting the number of non-family passengers for drivers under 18.
  • When asked about the prohibition of cell phones or texting while driving for younger drivers, 81 percent are in favor.
  • Support for STANDUP and its individual provisions crosses all age groups, geographic regions, and political affiliation.

American drivers are highly critical of teenage drivers, giving them the lowest rating of all age groups. Eighty-one percent rate teenagers as “average” or “poor” drivers.

“Results from this survey show that Americans clearly understand that GDL laws can help save lives, and that a majority of them support a legislative solution that safely introduces teen drivers to the road,” said Bill Vainisi, senior vice president and deputy general counsel, Allstate. “What’s needed now is national leadership in the form of uniform standards for those GDL laws.”

The survey of 1,000 American adults was conducted July 13, 14, 16 and 17 via landline and cell phone and has a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percent. Of the 1,000 adults, the survey identified 848 drivers who hold a license and drive at least occasionally.

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