As our teens head back to school for another year, officials head back to the drawing board to figure out ways to help keep our teen drivers from being involved in a car accident in Illinois. In another effort to keep our young driver safe, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) recently teamed up with the Illinois Secretary of State and Illinois State Police (ISP) to kick off the fifth year of the Operation Teen Safe Driving (OTSD) program.
“Whether the issue is texting, speed, or distracted or impaired driving, the program is successful because teens are directly educating their peers about the hazards of irresponsible driving behavior, and the messages continue to resonate with one another,” said Transportation Secretary Ann Schneider.
Our Chicago car accident attorneys understand the number of risks that our teen drivers face on our roadways. Their inexperience behind the wheel leaves them extremely vulnerable to serious traffic accidents. With the proper driving education and with the help of parents, teens can be taught the skills necessary to help keep them safe.
Currently, the state of Illinois requires that's its newly licensed drivers complete a Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program. This is a system that allows teen drivers to learn how to drive through a three stage process in which they must abide by a number of restrictions.
Illinois GDL program:
-15-year-old drivers: Drivers in this age group must always ride with a licensed parent or guardian. They must also be enrolled in a driver's education program and must pass the exams. They're not allowed to drive Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. On Thursday and Friday these drivers can drive until 11:00 p.m. A driver must hold this license for a minimum of nine months and complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving with 10 hours of the 50 occurring during the evening hours. Drivers that are 15-years-old are not allowed to use a cell phone while operating a motor vehicle.
-Drivers Age ages 16- and 17-years-old: Driving is prohibited from Sunday through Thursday from 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. for drivers in this age group. They're allowed to drive until 11:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Drivers must maintain a conviction-free driving record for the six months before they turn 18 before they can graduate to the Full Licensing Phase. All drivers in this age group must wear a seat belt while driving and can only have one passenger in the front seat. Drivers in this age group are prohibited from using a cell phone.
-18- to 20-year-old drivers: A driver can now drive with normal unrestricted license privileges provided they've passed all of the other licensing stages. No driver under the age of 19 is allowed to use a cell phone while driving unless they're using it for emergency purposes.
"Teen drivers who are educated and informed, develop safe and responsible driving habits as adults - and that is a safety goal OTSD is already achieving," said ISP Col. Robert Haley.
More than 100 local high schools participated in the fifth year of the Operation Teen Safe Driving program in an attempt to help educate young drivers. These students participated in a number of school assemblies, accident enactment seminars, fatal accident simulations and other informational events.
Each school was able to fund the program through a $2,000 grant from the participating organizations. Each school then participated in a contest to determine who led the best and most effective peer-led teen safe driving program. Winning schools received prize money to help them fund post-prom events aimed at encouraging kids to stay sober this school year.
They were also invited to participate in the Ford Motor Company Fund’s Driving Skills for Life Ride and Drive event.
As teens head back to school this year, parents are urged to speak with the young driver's in their life about the importance of safe driving habits.