Skip to main content

South Carolina Graduated Licensing (GDL)

We propose that the GDL law be expanded to require all teenagers (17-19) to successfully complete a certified traffic safety education course before being eligible to apply for a SC driver's license, since there seems to be major oppositions in changing the law to require driver education for teenagers 17 years of age.

In most states, teenagers under 17 can get a restricted license by taking driver education or driver training. However, there is no assurance that 17-19 year-olds take a safety course before being licensed.

Any safety education before getting a driver's license is better than none! Such education could involve controlling the speed and direction of the motor vehicle according to the requirements of the roadway; interacting safely and efficiently with other highway users in routine and difficult highway traffic conditions; controlling the vehicle properly in critical emergency situations caused by driver error, loss of traction, or vehicle failure; coping with highway crashes if directly involved or one of the first to come upon the scene; considering the requirements of physical, mental, and emotional fitness for operating a motor vehicle and refraining from driving when operator fitness is inadequate for safe driving; etc.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration spoke that such safety education “seeks to develop safe and efficient drivers who understand the essential facets of evolving traffic safety programs and who participate in the traffic environment in a manner that enhances the effectiveness of such programs.” Driving constitutes the greatest hazard to survival through which American youth must pass successfully to reach adulthood.

Consider since we invaded Iraq in 2003, we lost more than 4,300 soldiers, and this is totally unacceptable. Yet during that same period more than 40,000 teens age 15-19 have been killed in motor vehicle crashes. This is not simply statistics, but represents our nation's DEAD KIDS. We say that 4,300 dead soldiers are not acceptable, but are we saying 40,000 dead teens are okay? If not, please do what you can to promote driver and traffic safety education for all of our South Carolina teenagers!

Throughout the nation crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers. In fact, teenagers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes as other drivers (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration).

Then Governor Jimmy Carter was quoted to say “it is my view that efforts in highway safety matters should be multiplied, particularly with regard to education. Driver education in the public schools is an important element of our educational system, and it is through safety education that we can insure that we have highways free of unnecessary dangers” (Traffic Safety Education, October 7, 1976).

Insuring that teenagers take driver education or traffic safety before getting a driver's license is an edge they need to help them drive and survive. May you make it so.

Joe Sabbadino