Monday, August 12, 2019

CDOT: Traffic Fatalities Involving Teens & Anniversary of GDL Law

August 8, 2019
Sam Cole, CDOT Communications Manager
303.757-9484 (desk) | 303-859-1304 (cell)

Traffic Fatalities Involving Teens Spike Since 2017
CDOT’s teen driving campaign features parents selling their teens’ cars

STATEWIDEThough the overall number of young drivers involved in fatal crashes has fallen by almost 50% in the last 20 years, the past two years have seen higher numbers: from 2005 - 2016, Colorado averaged 64 young drivers involved in fatal crashes per year.  In 2017 and 2018 the average was 86 young drivers per year, an increase of 34 percent.

Because teen drivers’ inexperience makes them among the most dangerous drivers on the road, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) is launching a safety campaign to encourage them to drive more safely and grow their awareness of Colorado’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) law. This year is the 20th anniversary of the passage of the GDL law.

Funny and informative videos called, ‘GDL Resale,’ depict scenarios with parents offering their teen’s car for sale in the manner of an auctioneer or used car salesperson, as consequences for not abiding the GDL laws. The videos will run on social media until September 6 and can be viewed at:

On Thursday (August 8, 2019) in front of the Carla Madison Recreation Center in Denver, CDOT kicked off the teen safety campaign flanked by victims, safety advocates and law enforcement. The campaign targets teens, ages 15 - 18, where they spend a lot of their time—on social media—including Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook. The aim is to educate Colorado young drivers on the GDL restrictions.

The GDL law:

·        Forbids passengers under 21 years old for the first six months of licensure - with only one passenger allowed after six months until the end of the first year
·        Bans use of cell phones until the driver is 18; and
·        Makes not buckling up a primary traffic offense and requires occupants in back seat to buckle up too

“When teens receive their driver’s licenses, the first year of driving is the most dangerous,” said CDOT Executive Director Shoshana Lew. “But our GDL law has contributed to a near 50% reduction in traffic fatalities involving young drivers over the last 20 years, which is very good news. We must continue to educate teens about GDL and enforce the law if we want to continue to see such positive results.”

Colorado first adopted a Graduated Driver Licensing law two decades ago, in 1999, after a horrific crash in Greeley that killed four teenagers. A 16-year-old driver had just received his license and he had little experience driving when his friends jumped in his car, and he ran a stop sign. 

GDL laws help teens gain important driving skills gradually while putting restrictions on the number of passengers permitted, banning cell phone use, and encouraging seatbelt use, among other rules.

“Motor vehicle crashes are not caused by involuntary or inevitable mistakes. Teens are as powerful as they are vulnerable, because most teen crashes involve voluntary choices. By partnering with CDOT and promoting the GDL awareness campaign, we hope to save lives by decreasing teen driver deaths,” said Drive Smart of the Rockies Executive Director Amy Nichols.  “When teens pay attention to the road, buckle up, and reduce the number of passengers in their cars, they drive smarter.”

For more teen driving tips and resources, visit

To heighten safety awareness, CDOT recently announced its Whole System — Whole Safety initiative. This project takes a systematic statewide approach to safety combining the benefits of CDOT’s programs that address driving behaviors, our built environment and the organization's operations. The goal is to improve the safety of Colorado’s transportation network by reducing the rate and severity of crashes and improving the safety of all transportation modes. The program has one simple mission—to get everyone home safely.
CDOT has approximately 3,000 employees located at its Denver headquarters and in regional offices throughout Colorado, and manages more than 23,000 lane miles of highway and 3,429 bridges. CDOT also manages grant partnerships with a range of other agencies, including metropolitan planning organizations, local governments and airports. It also administers Bustang, the state-owned and operated interregional express service. Governor Polis has charged CDOT to further build on the state’s intermodal mobility options.