An article in the December 6, 2011 of FLORIDA TODAY by Larry Copeland of USA TODAY reported that the United States could save 2,000 lives a year if all 50 states instituted comprehensive programs of phased-in driving privileges for teens, according to a new report out today.

"We knew that when states pass good laws, lives are saved and a lot of money is saved. Wed just never done the analysis," says John Ulczycki of the National Safety Council, which researched the issue for the Allstate Foundation.

This report came in as Congress prepares to consider a multi-year highway and transit spending bill. Advocates of graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws are pushing to include funding for about $25 million a year in incentives for states to strengthen GDL programs.

Motor-vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the USA, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash, the CDC says.

Every state has some form of GDL, which rewards novice drivers with additional privileges as they gain experience and maturity. Ulczycki and other experts say the most effective programs contain seven key components; two states, New York and Delaware, have programs with all seven.

The seven components: a minimum age 16 for a learners permit; six months supervised driving before unsupervised driving; minimum 30 hours supervised driving during learning stage; intermediate licensing at a minimum age of 16; intermediate nighttime restriction beginning at 10 p.m.; no more than one non-family passenger for intermediate license holders; and a minimum age of 17 for a full license.

One component that could draw opposition from lawmakers concerned about states rights: raising the minimum age for getting a learners permit.

Also, the 10,000-member National Youth Rights Association opposes a national GDL law. "Its discriminatory on its face," Vice President Jeffrey Nadel says.

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