Cairo Association of Teachers - Newsletter

CAT Tracks for January 29, 2007

Secretary of State Jesse White wants to up the ante!

From the Southern Illinoisan...

Illinois teens could have to wait longer to drive on their own

By: Carly O'Keefe

CARBONDALE, Ill. - Illinois could make it even harder for teens to get their license. The state just upped the requirements for permit drivers June 2006. That doubled the drive time with mom and dad from 25 hours to 50 hours.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White recently announced plans to push legislation that would triple the length of time young drivers have that permit, from three months to nine months. He argues it will give them more supervised time behind the wheel before they're out on their own.

According to White, traffic accidents are the leading cause of death among teens in Illinois. Deputy Tim Bishop of Jackson County has seen the aftermath of young drivers with too little experience.

"I've been to quite a few accidents involving young drivers, a couple of which have been fatal accidents. They're worst to go up to. To see a kid who died needlessly in a car wreck," said Bishop.

Bishop supports the recently announced legislation that would keep kids behind the wheel longer with supervision before they're out on their own.

"I think anything you can do to teach people to drive better, pay more attention to the road, obviously the more you learn the better you're going to do when you get out on your own," said Bishop.

Some teenagers aren't so sure they agree.

"I think my mom would probably like it so I'd have the extra driving practice, but I don't really like it," said Brittany Jennings of Carbondale.

"I think they can always use more time so I wouldn't be too upset if they did expand it to get more hours driving with a parent," said mother of two teenagers Beth Stearns of Carbondale.

Other parents say the current permit requirements are strict enough, and it's all about teaching your kids right and wrong as well as the rules of the road.

"If you teach them to be more responsible behind the wheel, and not pay attention to other influences, if they're responsible they should be alright," said Arlene Maricele of Carbondale, a mother of two teenage boys.

Bishop says it's better to be safe than sorry, and a little extra practice can't hurt.

"A lot of young lives have been lost across the state in car accidents that should have never happened. So just the fact that they're going to try to do this, see if it works, it may not, but they at least should try. It's worth it," said Bishop.

If the proposed legislation becomes law, it would also extend the time limit on more than two non-related teens driving in one car. Right now the law says 6 months; it would be changed to a full year or until the driver turns 18.

Curfew would also be changed from midnight on weekends to 11 p.m. and from 11 p.m. on week nights to 10 p.m.