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June 22, 2006

Gov. Blagojevich signs legislation requiring teens to spend more time learning how to drive
New law doubles the number of behind-the-wheel training hours

SPRINGFIELD  - Governor Rod R. Blagojevich today signed a new law initiated by Secretary of State Jesse White that increases the amount of time teenage drivers must spend in behind the wheel instruction before they can receive their driver’s license. House Bill 4768, sponsored by Rep. John D’Amico (D-Chicago) and Sen. John Cullerton (D-Chicago), doubles the amount of behind the wheel training teens must have from 25 to 50 hours, and requires that 10 of those hours be driven at night.  Traffic crashes are the leading cause of teenage fatalities – and teenage drivers have a fatality rate that is nearly two times higher than older drivers.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds nationwide.
“Defensive driving means that even if you’re doing everything right, you still have to worry about everyone else on the road.  And there’s probably no group of drivers on the road that worry the rest of us more than teenage drivers.  Driving is about instinct.  It’s about experience. And when you first start driving, those are two things you just don’t have.  The bill I’m signing today will help make sure that teenage drivers are better trained and more experienced, and that should make the roads safer for all of us,” said Governor Blagojevich.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), two out of five deaths among U.S. teens are the result of a motor vehicle crash. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that, per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely to crash than older drivers. 
“I want to commend Governor Blagojevich and the members of the General Assembly for helping establish this new law that will undoubtedly save the lives of more young drivers,” said White. “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 15 to 20. I believe this proposal will help give our young people more experience behind the wheel, in a variety of situations, helping them to become better, safer drivers.”
In addition to doubling the amount time of time teens must spend practicing driving from 25 hours to 50 hours, and requiring 10 night-driving hours, HB 4768 also clarifies that written consent from a parent or guardian must accompany a teen’s driver’s license application, regardless of whether or not a consent form accompanied a previous application for an instruction permit. The bill is effective immediately.
"This a good bill because it gives teenagers more experience before they get behind the wheel. It gives parents one more tool to work with before their child gets behind the wheel. Hopefully it will save lives along the way," said Rep. D’Amico.
“It takes practice to become a good driver,” Sen. Cullerton said.  “Novice teen drivers will be better prepared for situations on the road if they have logged more time behind the wheel with an instructor.”
The Governor has made improving traffic safety issues a priority for his administration and has actively supported legislation to reduce fatalities on our state’s highways. Previous traffic safety measures signed by the Governor include:
  • A law that bans teen drivers from carrying more than one passenger for the first six months after receiving his or her license;
  • A law that bans cell phone use by drivers under 18;
  • Requiring drivers under 18 to make sure that their teen passengers are buckled properly in the front and back seats;
  • The primary seat belt enforcement law that allows officers to stop and ticket drivers for not wearing a seat belt; and
  • A law that raised the age at which children must be in booster seats from 4 to 8.
Officials at the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) credit these measures with helping reduce the number of fatalities from 1,454 in 2003 to 1,355 in 2004 and 2005. In addition, an annual survey found that seat belt usage increased by 10 percent from 2003 to 2005, from 76 percent to 86 percent.
“We’ve certainly made progress in terms of reducing fatalities and encouraging greater seat belt use,” said IDOT Secretary Timothy W. Martin. “But we’ve still got more work to do. These measures signed by the Governor should help save more lives.” 


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