Posted On: January 12, 2007 by Christopher T. Hurley

Illinois must tighten standards for teen drivers

Illinois laws regulating teen drivers are weaker than in most states. According to a Pediatrics report by Susan Baker and colleagues, the main provisions in the various state graduated drivers licensing programs fall into 7 categories: minimum age for a learner permit, mandatory waiting period before applying for intermediate license, minimum hours of supervised driving, minimum age for intermediate license, nighttime restriction, passenger restriction, and minimum age for full licensing.

Illinois’ night-driving ban starts at midnight on weekends, and at 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. However, data on fatal crashes where 16- and 17-year-olds are behind the wheel show the risk of their being involved in fatal crashes is three times higher from 10 p.m. to midnight than from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Illinois' graduated licensing system does ban the use of cell phones by teens while driving. Yet Illinois has one of the shortest mandatory holding periods for a learner's permit—only three months. According to a recent Chicago Tribune study, the longer the permit time, the more opportunity adults have to impart valuable supervised driving for their teen drivers in a variety of conditions. Forty-five states apparently have longer periods than Illinois--the standard being six months.

Illinois must act to tighten restrictions on teen drivers—for the safety of these inexperienced drivers and for the safety of the driving public.

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