Training of teen drivers has led to fewer Chicago car accidents — In Indiana … not so much

Officials in Indiana are trying to make sense of a study that found that teens who take driver’s education classes are four time more likely to be involved in a crash than those who forgo the training.

The report by the Chicago Breaking News Center comes as officials nationwide continue the effort to reduce the number of serious and fatal car accidents involving teen drivers. As we reported on our Chicago Car Accident Lawyers Blog, a teen challenge is running through mid-September, which encourages young drivers to submit public service announcements about the dangers of texting and driving.Safety advocates point to Illinois’ Graduated Driver Licensing System, considered by some to be one of the nation’s best young-driver programs, for the reduction in Chicago car accidents involving teenagers.

“I am pleased and encouraged that the number of teen crash fatalities continues to drop since my Teen Driver Safety Task Force issued recommendations that led to the strengthening of Illinois’ graduated driver licensing (GDL) program,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “Since the stronger GDL program took effect in 2008, teen driving deaths have dropped by over 50 percent.”

Still, 164 motorists were killed in Illinois car accidents involving young drivers in 2008, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Nationwide, 5,864 young drivers were involved in fatal crashes and more than 228,000 motorists were injured in accidents involving young drivers.

The Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette reported that the study looked at 122,924 young drivers in Indiana, more than half of whom did not take driver’s education. Nearly five percent of driver’s ed students were involved in an accident, compared to 1 percent of students without formal driver training. Officials caution that some of the discrepancy might be because teens who take driver’s ed are allowed to get their permits at a younger age and hold a permit for at least six months longer.

Still, the Associated Press reported it might be time to overhaul the driver education system in that state, which has not been updated in three decades.

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