New Drivers Ed Classes to be required for Illinois 18 to 20 year olds

From a story by Ted Gregory of the Chicago Tribune:

In a few months, obtaining [a] license will be a little more complicated for older teens, increasing numbers of whom are delaying the rite of obtaining driver’s licenses. Starting July 1, Illinois will require all 18-, 19- and 20-year-olds to complete six hours of classroom or online driver education before receiving a license. Behind-the-wheel training will not be required.

Current Illinois law allows those 18 or older to receive their first license if they pass the vision, written and road tests. Driver education is optional.

Driving safety advocates in Illinois — already considered one of the more restrictive teen driving states — say the new measure will help reduce traffic fatalities among a high-risk group that is largely ignored. Others contend the new law may matter little and could harm driver training schools…

The new law will take effect about six years after Illinois imposed some of the stronger teen driving laws in the U.S. Known as graduated driver licensing, or GDL, the system calls for new, teen drivers to carry a learners permit for nine months; acquire 50 hours of adult supervised, behind-the-wheel training; and accept limits on passengers and night driving.

Study after study find a close association between a decline in young-teen driving deaths and more restrictive teen driving laws. A 2006 report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) showed that states with the most restrictive GDL systems experienced a 21 percent drop in 16-year-old driver deaths.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that those more comprehensive programs yielded a near-40 percent reduction in fatal and injury crashes among 16-year-old drivers.

Illinois’ experience has reflected those results. Since more stringent teen driving laws took effect in 2008, car crash deaths of 16- to 19-year olds in the state dropped to 58 in 2012, the Illinois Department of Transportation reports. IDOT figures show that total was 144 in the year before those restrictions.

The number of deaths among drivers who are 18, 19 and 20 also dropped by 30 percent, to 60, in the year the tougher GDL laws took effect on Jan. 1, 2008, according to IDOT figures.

Driver fatalities in that group dropped again, to 39 the next year, before spiking to 46 in 2010 and remaining at 35 deaths per year in 2011 and 2012.

 

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