Teenagers are a high-risk group when it comes to driving. Most teenagers fail to appreciate the dangers of driving and display risk-taking behavior behind the wheel, which results in a high collision rate for this age group. Following the standard set by many other state legislatures, the Pennsylvania government has adopted a Graduated Driver License (GDL) program that was designed to address this problem. Under the GDL program, every first-time driver under the age of 18 must go through a number of phases before he or she is awarded with a full, unrestricted drivers license. This multi-step system gradually introduces the teenager to various aspects of driving and ensures that he or she is fully prepared to meet the challenges of the road.
The first step towards an unrestricted drivers license is obtaining a learners permit. Learners permits are issued to applicants who are at least 15 years of age and have successfully completed a written knowledge examination. The permit holder is allowed to drive under the supervision of a licensed driver who is at least 21 years old. The permit must be held for at least six months before the student can apply for a road test and obtain a provisional license. During this period, the student must complete the mandatory 50 hours of supervised driving. When the student satisfies the above requirements and successfully completes the driving test, he or she will be issued with a provisional license that allows unsupervised driving but poses the following restrictions:
- The license holder is not allowed to operate a motor vehicle between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
- The number of passengers must not exceed the number of seatbelts in the vehicle.
- The license holder may not drive under the influence.
The above restrictions are eliminated when the driver reaches the age of 18. Alternatively, these restrictions may be lifted if the driver displays a crash- and conviction-free record for the 12 month period following the provisional license issuance and has completed an approved drivers education course.
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