Getting a driver’s license is such an exciting time in a teenager’s life. They feel like they are taking a big step toward adulthood and growing up. It’s also gives teens a feeling of independence to be able to drive themselves places like school and part-time job instead of needing to rely on others for transportation. This new flexibility often offers a lot of ease on parents and their work schedules too. However, with this new step comes a lot of responsibility on the teen’s part in being a safe driver and following the rules and on the parents to be a model of safe behavior and to instill discipline and encouragement to abide by the rules and not be reckless.
Unfortunately, distracted driving a huge factor in teen car accidents. According to a report by the Chicago Tribune, new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found that distracted driving among teens is a much larger problem than we previously thought. The study analyzed 1700 in-car videos of teen drivers that led to the conclusion that distraction is a much more prevalent factor for crashes than many thought. These videos analyzed in the study, consisting of accidents ranging from August 2007 to July 2013, allowed for a better understanding of what goes on when a teen is driving in the moments leading up the collision. Such common distractions include talking with passengers, texting, and grooming (i.e. hair and makeup). These factors alone were present in 60% of moderate-to-severe teen car accidents. Unfortunately, the majority of the teen accidents occurred in the Midwest.
According to the same article, Illinois lawmakers have taken measures to protect our teen drivers. Our Secretary of State, Jesse White, has stated that our state’s teen driving laws are more restrictive than what is recommended by the AAA. In Illinois, in a teen’s first year of driving with a license, only one teen passenger who is not an immediate family member is allowed to be present in the vehicle. Illinois also strictly forbids drivers from using cellphones and other electronic devices, whether hands-free or not, until the age of 19. Anyone above this age must only use a hands-free cellphone. Last year alone, there were 37,000 convictions in Illinois for using a cellphone while driving.
Thankfully, our state’s efforts have helped decrease the numbers regarding accidents and fatalities, but more still needs to be done. While the numbers have dropped, teen accidents are still far too prevalent and substantial in severity. Most of our state’s restrictions were imposed in 2008, according to the same article. The year before the laws were enacted, there were 155 teen deaths. Last year, the number of teen deaths from car accidents dropped to 66. However, this is still too many teens dying from preventable accidents, and our efforts should not cease until teens are safe. Our attorneys want all members of our community to be safe on the roads, and we encourage you to talk to teen drivers about the dangers of distracted driving and the need to follow the law. Stress to your teens that they should not take calls or text while behind the wheel, and that it only takes a moment of distraction to cause a serious fatal car accident.