Restrictions during the Intermediate Licensing Phase: A Content Analysis


  • Nicole Asa University of Washington School of Public Health
  • Amanda Hautmann Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Abigail Wexner Research Institute, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Lindsay Sullivan National University of Ireland, Galway
  • Robyn Feiss Nationwide Children's Hospital
  • Gary A. Smith Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Abigail Wexner Research Institute, Nationwide Children’s Hospital
  • Jingzhen Yang Center for Injury Research and Policy at The Abigail Wexner Research Institute, Nationwide Children’s Hospital



Intermediate Licensing, Driving Restrictions, Content Analysis, Teenage Drivers, Road Safety


Introduction: This study analyzed the content of intermediate licensing restrictions of all 50 US states and examined the variation in strictness and language of four restriction categories: minimum age, nighttime driving restrictions, passenger restrictions, and traffic violation penalties.

Methods: We analyzed state intermediate licensing restrictions using data from four online sources (AAA Guide to Teen Driver Safety, National Conference of State Legislatures, Teen Driving Laws, and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). Two trained coders independently coded the content of the restrictions, identified four restricted categories and subthemes for each category, and scored each subtheme from 0 to 2, with a higher score indicating a stricter restriction. Direct quotes from state laws were identified to support each subtheme.

Results: All 50 states included a minimum age for obtaining an intermediate license. Of 50 states, 49 (98.0%) contained nighttime driving restrictions, 46 (92.0%) contained passenger restrictions, and 43 (86.0%) included traffic violation penalties. Variations existed in the minimum age for an intermediate license and length required in the learner permit phase, the starting time and length of the nighttime driving restrictions, the number and age of passengers in passenger restrictions, the minimum time the driver needs to be violation-free before obtaining a full license, and the type and severity of traffic violation penalties.

Conclusions: Although all states have intermediate licensing restrictions, variations exist in the strictness and language of these restrictions. Future research should assess how these variations impact driving safety among teens when they first start driving unsupervised.


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How to Cite

Asa, N., Hautmann, A., Sullivan, L., Feiss, R., Smith, G. A., & Yang, J. (2023). Restrictions during the Intermediate Licensing Phase: A Content Analysis. Journal of Student Research, 10(4).



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