In an effort to bolster teen driving safety, Illinois and the other U.S. states created so-called “graduated drivers’ licenses.” This means that young people can get a learner’s permit at the age of 15 and a provisional drivers’ license when they turn 16. But they are not eligible for an “adult” license until they are at least 18 years old.
Graduated drivers’ licenses are designed to lower accidents and their subsequent injuries caused by drivers who are young and inexperienced. But recent research questions whether this three-tiered licensing process (and others like it) truly keep teens safer.
A study published on September 14 in the Journal of the American Medical Association shows that from 1986 to 2007, fatal automobile accidents involving 16-year olds were about 26% lower in states with graduated drivers’ licenses than in those without such programs. However, their 18-year old peers saw a jump of 10% in fatal auto crashes during that time period. The researchers said that teenagers may be putting off getting their drivers’ licenses until they turn 18 to avoid the provisional restrictions – but that results in more inexperienced 18-year old drivers on the roadways.
On the other hand, another study in the Traffic Safety Journal last year determined that there was no difference in fatal collision rates among 18- or 19-year olds in the two groups of states; whereas drivers between the ages of 15 and 17 were 30% less likely to be in a fatal auto crash in a state with a rigorous graduated drivers’ license program. So the jury is still out on whether the graduated drivers’ license approach is harmful to older teens or not.
In Illinois, a teenager must have a learner’s permit for at least nine months and have completed at least 10 nighttime and 40 daytime hours of supervised driving practice before getting a provisional driver’s license. During the provisional stage, the teen driver cannot driver at night without adult supervision. In addition, an “adult” licensee can’t have more than one passenger under 20 years old in the vehicle for the first year.
If your teen has died or been injured in an auto collision, contact an experienced auto car accident lawyer as soon as you can.