The Illinois Secretary of State recently credited a sharp drop in teen driving deaths to changes made to the Graduated Driver Licensing program in 2008. In 2007, Illinois saw car accidents claim the lives of 144 teen drivers. In 2012, that number dropped to 58 deaths. The GDL program was strengthened to help young drivers acclimate to the demands of safe driving in a more controlled manner. It addressed known safety issues such as teens driving with other teen passengers, teens driving at night and distracted driving behaviors. The Secretary of State referred to the program as, “one of the best in the nation.”
Some critics of graduated licensing programs throughout the country have pointed to an increase in fatalities among 18-19 year-olds as evidence that teens are simply delaying the process of obtaining a license. The purpose of the laws is to help protect novice drivers. If the result is that drivers are waiting to become new drivers until after the laws stop applying to them, the laws should not be regarded as effective.
The Secretary made his remarks in conjunction with the presentation of the 2013 Teen Driving Safety Award to a high school in Glenview, Illinois. The school was acknowledged for several safety initiatives geared toward teen drivers. The program is an excellent example of how communities can work together with teens to foster an environment where safety is emphasized. Parents, instructors and the teens themselves need to partner to make the roads safer for everyone.
Source: The Rock River Times, “Teen driving deaths down nearly 60 percent in Illinois,” 23 October 2013