In Illinois, a person who is under the age of 18 and who violates the nighttime driving restriction may have his or her driving privileges suspended. This is one aspect of the Illinois Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. GDL programs are in place in a number of states across the country. A common problem in many of these states is enforcement. Adult drivers are allowed to drive at night. They are not restricted in the number of passengers they may carry under a certain age. These restrictions are solely the province of young drivers subject to the GDL guidelines. One way to assist police in enforcing the provisions of a GDL is to also require that applicable drivers display a decal, indicating their status. New Jersey became the first state to require such a decal in 2010. Recent research has indicated that the decal program positively impacts teen driver safety.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sponsoring Teen Driver Safety Week this week (October 18-24). The NHTSA is calling on parents and guardians to do their part in keeping young drivers safe. The agency is pushing the slogan "5 to Drive" to help parents set guidelines for the teen drivers in their homes.
Recent research from the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health analyzed the impact of texting bans and found that they have been effective. Illinois was one of 24 states to ban texting by drivers of any age during the period analyzed in the study, 2000 to 2010. An additional seven states banned texting by young drivers with provisional licenses. Illinois was also among the states that allowed primary enforcement of the texting ban. That means that police officers here can stop and cite a driver solely for the act of texting behind the wheel. States with secondary enforcement statutes only allow drivers to be cited for texting after they have been stopped for some other offense.
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."