GDL Program Risks for Car Accidents in Illinois for Graduated Drivers?

“You want a mix of country driving and urban driving, with different kinds of roads, with different kinds of weather,” said Diana Horton of the Tri-County Driving School based in Kane County.

She’s talking about young drivers and their experience through the Graduated Drivers Licensing (GDL) program in Illinois. This program is used to help educate teens to drive though a number of stages. The program aims to reduce the risks of teen car accidents in Chicago and elsewhere.Our Chicago teen car accident attorneys understand that teens who participate in a GDL program typically experience a 26 percent decrease in the number of teen driving accidents. Unfortunately, CNN reports that older teen drivers are not seeing the same decrease — another reason why parents should remain involved in their teen’s driving through high school and even college.

The GDL program in Illinois, according to Cyber Drive Illinois:

15-year-old drivers, Permit Phase:
-Must be enrolled in a driver education course that has been approved by the DOT.
-May not drive from Sunday through Thursday between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
-May not drive on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
-Must pass a written and a vision exam.
-Must hold this permit for at least nine months.
-Must complete at least 50 hours of practice driving time with a licensed supervising adult.
-Can only have one front seat passenger and the number of seat belts in the back seat.
-All vehicle occupants under 19 must wear a seat belt.
-Drivers may not use a cell phone.

16- and 17-years-old, Initial Licensing Phase:
-A parent must certify that the driver has completed 50 hours of supervised driving.
-A parent must be present to obtain this license from the DMV.
-Must have completed the driver education course.
-May not drive from Sunday through Thursday between 10:00 p.m. and 6:00 a.m.
-May not drive on Friday and Saturday from 11:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m.
-Cannot have a traffic conviction with six months before applying for next license.
-All vehicle occupants under 19 must wear a seat belt.
-Can only have one passenger under the age of 20 at a time.
-Cannot use a cell phone while driving.

18- through 20-years-old, Full Licensing Phase:

-No previous restrictions pertain to this driving phase.
-Cell phone use by drivers under the age of 19 is prohibited.

Researchers are finding that it is when drivers complete the restricted phases of this system that they face an increased risk for a serious car accident. Many believe it’s because they’re finally handed total freedom behind the wheel and are oftentimes overwhelmed.

“The expectation was that older [teen] drivers wouldn’t be affected much one way or the other, so this is a new thing to think about,” says Anne McCartt, Ph.D., vice president for research at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS).

According to The Beacon-News, there were nearly 150 teenagers killed in Illinois as a result of a traffic accident in 2007. Secretary of State Jesse White says that the number of teens that died in 2009 was half that, at less than 75. He continues to stick by his GDL program, saying that the recent increase in the restrictions within the GDL program has helped to drop this number.

Safe driving advocates continue to worry about our young drivers after they graduate from this program. Regardless, parents and guardians need to stay involved in their young driver’s time behind the wheel. Keep safe driving as a frequent topic of conversation within your household.

If you or your teen driver has been injured in a traffic accident, the personal injury attorneys and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential appointments to discuss your rights. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Additional Resources:

Teen restrictions fail to curb fatal crashes, by Amanda Gardner, CNN
Driving to save teenage drivers, by Dave Gathman, The Beacon-News
More Blog Entries:

Simple and Old-Fashioned Tips to Prevent Injury in a Chicago Car Accident, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, September 19, 2011

Fatigued Drivers Contributing to Risk of Car Accidents in Chicago, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, September 18, 2011

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