With the deadliest months for teen driving accidents now behind us, its reassuring to see legislators and the governor come together to further improve the safety of teen drivers across Illinois. Id like to thank Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D) for signing the new and expanded graduated drivers license (GDL) bill into law, a measure that will better prepare our young drivers for the responsibilities they face each time they take the wheel. As a parent of teen-age drivers, I appreciate the passion and commitment to keeping our teens safer on the roads.
Although its hoped the new law, which takes effect Jan. 1, will reduce the number of crashes involving teen drivers, parents shouldnt think that stronger laws alone will make their teen safer on the road. A recent survey conducted by The Allstate Foundation Teen Driving Program (www.ProtectTeenDrivers.com) found that 60 percent of parents nationwide were, at best, only vaguely aware of their states GDL requirements. Sadly, motor vehicle accidents remain the No. 1 killer of teens nationwide, claiming 5,000-6,000 of our young drivers each year according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.
Expanding the length of time Illinois teens must drive on learners permits, limiting the number of passengers teens can have in their cars and cutting down on nighttime driving hours for teens are definitely steps in the right direction, but we cant stop there. Parents must still play vital roles in making strong impressions on their children. All parents should model good driving behavior and talk to their children about safe driving early and often. By familiarizing themselves with Illinois new teen driving guidelines and taking the time to explain to their children why smart driving skills are so important, parents can make a big difference.
Working together, parents, legislators, educators and the community play a critical role when it comes to safeguarding our children. This new law will make a difference, but the level of parent involvement will be vital to expanding its margin of success.
Denis Bailey is field vice president of Allstate Insurance, Midwest Region, in Buffalo Grove, Ill.
from the Sept. 12 – 18, 2007, issue