Gauging GDL Effectiveness

By: Colleen McPartlin
By: Colleen McPartlin

Teen drivers have followed the graduated drivers license program for three years now in Wisconsin.

New medical research shows that the part of the brain that weighs risks and controls impulsive behavior isn't fully developed until about age 25, so are we creating potentially harmful situations putting 16-year-olds behind the wheel?

Lt. Dennis Saager of the Wausau Police Department says, "I think all 16-year-olds might have different levels of ability, different levels of maturity."

Jean Zimdars of the D&J Driving School in Mosinee says, "I tell my students if you're practicing all the time the correct way, no matter what the situation or how nervous you may get, you're gonna do it correct because you've practiced that way. It's been a habit."

The GDL increases the number of practice driving hours before they get their license and afterwards, restricts the number of passengers and time of day a teen can drive for nine months.

Since the time is was implemented, the Wausau Police Department says fatal crashes have reduced by 18 percent and injury crashes by 20 percent.

Although this is good news, teens are still considered a high risk so law enforcement has some suggestions.

Parents should take their teens to controlled settings like an empty parking lot, especially in snowy weather to help show reduced traction.

Have your kids drive in all conditions and situations especially at night. Let them learn from their mistakes, and make sure that you have a good attitude while driving because kids mimic their parents.