Newly licensed drivers will face stiffer training and driving requirements come 2008.

Newly licensed drivers will face stiffer training and driving requirements come 2008.

Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the bill, which will go into effect in January, last month in an attempt to cut the number of injuries and fatalities attributed to young drivers.

“These laws have been a long time coming,” said Gary Thomas, a driving instructor for Drive Now - Teen Driver Education, which covers western DuPage County.

The bill will require teen drivers to complete nine months of permit-phase driving with a parent or guardian instead of the current three-month period, along with other changes that have been spearheaded by Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White.

Learn more about new laws

What: State Rep. Tim Schmitz, R-49th District, Batavia, will hold a class designed to educate new drivers and their parents on some of the new teen driving laws.
When: 7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 9.
Where: Elgin Community College Business Conference Center located at 1700 Spartan Drive, Elgin.
More information Space is limited. Reserve a spot by calling (630) 845-9590.

 

Newly licensed young drivers currently may have only one unrelated person in their car at any given time for six months after receiving a license.

The new law will extend that to one year to cut down on the distraction of having several teenage passengers in the same car. Tickets will be issued for the driver and any passengers not in compliance.

The bill requests $22 million for school districts to require six hours of behind-the-wheel training, eliminating any exemptions that would allow some students to complete just one hour of training.

The new law also requires parents to accompany their child to court. A new teen driver caught racing in the streets will have his or her car impounded, a ticket issued and their license revoked.

On weekdays now, teen drivers have to be off the streets by 11 p.m. and by midnight on weekends. Those times will be rolled back to 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends. The current curfew doesn’t include 17-year-old drivers, but the new law will.

Each year, teenage drivers account for about 13 percent of traffic fatalities even though they represent only 8.4 percent of the driving population, according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

Inexperience and immaturity are the main causes for the mistakes Thomas sees young drivers make year after year.

As of Sept. 5, 22 people were killed in car crashes in DuPage County this year, far fewer than the 54 reported deaths last year, according to County Coroner Peter Siekmann. 

New teen driver rules

• Nine months permit-phase driving with a parent or guardian
• Only one unrelated person in the car at any time for one year after receiving a license
• Six hours behind-the-wheel training at school
• Parents required to accompany their teen to traffic court appearances
• Racing in the streets will net an impounded car, a ticket and a revoked license
• 10 p.m. curfew on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends
• The current curfew doesn’t include 17-year-old drivers, but the new law will.

 

“We’re really on a terrific trend this year compared to any previous year,” Siekmann said.

Siekmann attributed the decrease to harsher seat belt laws and vehicle safety features such as airbags. Still, when it comes to teen drivers, Siekmann still sees a trend with drinking and increasing cell phone usage.

He applauded the new laws, especially those restricting the number of teens allowed in a car.

“As a parent, watching kids drive when there’s a bunch of them in the car, they seem to be very inattentive,” Siekmann said.

He urged parents to monitor their teen’s driving and hold off on letting them get their license until they are ready.