Teenage Driving Concerns

By: Mark Lindner
By: Mark Lindner

Twisted metal...broken glass. Scenes like this are not uncommon on our streets. Statewide, 1,000 16-year-olds are involved in fatal crashes each year. Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White attributes that to their lack of experience.

"When you take a young person and compare him or her with a 30 year old person driving at say 11 o'clock at night, the young person is three times more likely to have an accident," White says.

To curb those numbers, state lawmakers made it mandatory for teens to have more experience behind the wheel before getting their licenses. Now, teens must drive 50 hours with a parent, with 10 of those hours coming at night.

"We believe by giving a young person more experience, we'll be getting a better product," White says.

But some say accidents like these prove that teaching methods aren't making a strong enough impact.

"There's a lot of responsibilities that they aren't aware of that fall under the graduated license program," says Sgt. William Heintz of the Illinois State Police.

However, one thing most agree on; parents should have an active role in steering their kids' driving habits in the right direction.

"We want to advise parents to take a minute and discuss with their kids frequently to slow down, take their time, put the cell phone away, and concentrate on their driving," says Sgt. Michael Booker of the Rockford Police Department.

"They should be there with them and make sure they give them corrective suggestions," Jesse White adds.

In addition to increasing the number of hours teenagers must spend behind the wheel, there has also been talk of raising the driving age to 18.


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