Illinois task force suggests more restrictions for teen drivers

| Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A new task force in Illinois suggests that more behind-the-wheel practice and parental involvement could help reduce teen road deaths in the state.

Created by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, the task force met last week in Springfield to discuss increasing young drivers’ training.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed a bill into law in June that doubles the amount of time teens must spend behind-the-wheel training with their parents to 50 hours. The graduated driver’s license program includes 10 hours of nighttime driving.

Illinois law also prohibits drivers younger than 18 from using cell phones while driving and limits the number of teenage passengers they can transport.

White said he wants to add to the law by requiring teen drivers to have their learner’s permits for at least six months. Currently, learner’s permits are required for three months.

White also suggested making the curfew an hour earlier for 16-year-old drivers. The curfew would be moved up to 10 p.m. from 11 p.m.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among teens.

“While Illinois’ GDL law already contains many of the components that are believed to reduce traffic fatalities for these young drivers, we want to make sure that we take every reasonable step possible to save more lives,” White said in a written statement.

The task force has scheduled additional meetings this fall in Carterville and Chicago.

Findings from the meetings will be used to set up a legislative agenda for the session that begins in January.

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