Study: Illinois Car Accident Deaths Often Teens

On our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog we recently discussed the dangers that teenage drivers face during their first few years of driving. We’ve talked about the influence that parental supervision and teenage passengers had on their driving habits. Teens often underestimate the risks on our roadways. What a new study from the Governors Highway Safety Administration (GHSA) recently found is that some of our state’s teen driving education techniques may be working. Other states were not as fortunate.After concluding the study, Dr. Allan Williams, former chief scientist at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, determined that fatal teen car accidents nationwide increased during the first six months of 2011 by more than 10 percent. Dr. Williams looked at the teen car accident fatality rates for each state during this time and concluded that fatalities among 16-year-old drivers increased from 80 to 93, while the number of driver fatalities among those who were 17-years-old went from 110 to 118. That’s a combined increase of more than 10 percent. Luckily, there were 19 states that saw decreases in these numbers and eight states that stayed the same. But some states saw overwhelming increases.

Chicago car accident attorneys understand the risks that teens face behind the wheel. As with learning any new activity, it takes time. Parents need to be there for their newly-licensed drivers to help to push the state’s graduated driver’s licensing (GDL) rules. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), drivers who are 15-years-old can’t move to the next stage of licensing until they’re at least 16-years-old. During this time, they’re required to complete 50 hours of supervised driving time, 10 which must be completed at night. Parents are urged to ride along with teen drivers for more than the recommended 50 hours. Parental supervision may be one of the best ways to help prepare our young drivers for the dangers lurking on our roadways.

Illinois was singled out in this report. The GHSA report states that “one of the most successful examples of this collaboration has been in Illinois. The state developed Operation Teen Safe Driving with support from the Allstate Foundation and the Ford Driving Skills for Life program. Operation Teen Safe Driving addresses the major reasons teens are killed in crashes, including speeding, distracted driving and lack of seat belt use. The program provides materials and seed funding to schools across the state to develop peer-led activities that are thought to have contributed to the subsequent reductions in teen fatalities in Illinois.”

When a driver gets their restricted or intermediate license (when they’re at least 16), they are not allowed to drive after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. They are allowed back on the road starting at 6 a.m. They are also not allowed to have more than one passenger with them in the car under the age of 20 during the first year of this licensing.

Dr. Williams says there are a couple factors that can be credited with this nationwide increase. The first, he said, is that the benefits seen by some GDL programs may be leveling off because the laws have been in place for some time now. Secondly, he says that the improving economy may be calling more teen drivers to the roadways, increasing their risks.

“While it is not a surprise that these numbers are stabilizing or slightly increasing, states should not accept these deaths as something that can’t be prevented. More work can and should be done to save teen lives.” said Dr. Williams.

If you or your teenager has been injured or killed in a car accident in Illinois, the Chicago injury lawyers and wrongful death attorneys at Abels & Annes offer free and confidential consultations. Call (866) 99-ABELS. There is no fee unless you win.

Factors Affecting Teen’s Risks for Car Accidents in Chicago and Elsewhere, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, February 7, 2012

USDOT’s “OMG” PSAs to Curb Distraction-Related Teen Car Accidents in Chicago, Nation, Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, December 13, 2011

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