North Carolina Rating: Caution

traffic-yellowNorth Carolina needs improvement because of gaps in Advocates’ recommended optimal laws, as reported in the 2019 Roadmap Report.

Highway Safety Laws Needed

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Rear)
  • Rear Facing Through Age 2 Law
  • Booster Seat Law
GDL – Minimum Age 16 for Learner’s Permit
  • GDL – Age 18 for Unrestricted License
  • Ignition Interlocks for All Offenders

Current Optimal Highway Safety Laws

  • Primary Enforcement Seat Belt Law (Front)
  • All-Rider Motorcycle Helmet Law
  • GDL – 6-Month Holding Period Provision
  • GDL – 50 Hours of Supervised Driving Provision
  • GDL – Stronger Nighttime Restriction
  • GDL – Stronger Passenger Restriction
  • GDL – Cell Phone Restriction
  • Child Endangerment Law
  • Open Container Law
  • All-Driver Text Messaging Restriction

*States are credited with having laws only if their laws meet Advocates’ optimal criteria

Hot Now: Graduate Driver Licensing

In 2017, 193 people were killed in crashes involving young drivers in North Carolina.

The current GDL law in North Carolina includes the following components:

  • A three-stage licensing system beginning at age 15 for learner’s permit, age 16 for the intermediate stage, and age 16 years and 6 months for full licensure
  • A mandatory 12 month holding period for the learner’s permit stage
  • A minimum of 60 hours of supervised practice driving during the learner’s permit stage, at least 10 of which must be at night and a minimum of 12 hours during the intermediate phase, at least 6 of which must be at night
  • A prohibition on unsupervised nighttime driving between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. during the intermediate stage
  • A passenger restriction prohibiting more than one passenger younger than age 21; if a family member younger than age 21 is a passenger, then no other non-familial passengers younger than age 21 are permitted
  • A prohibition on non-emergency use of hand-held and hands-free cell phones by drivers younger than age 18
  • A prohibition on texting while driving for all drivers

These changes are needed to improve North Carolina’s GDL law and meet optimal GDL provisions:

  • Require age 16 for entry into the learner’s permit stage
  • Extend all restrictions on teen drivers through age 17

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