Teen Drivers Legally Licensed and Still Dying Behind the Wheel – Car Crashes Number One Cause of Teen Deaths (14 – 18 Year Olds)


Teen Drivers Legally Licensed and Still Dying Behind the Wheel – Car Crashes Number One Cause of Teen Deaths (14 – 18 Year Olds)

Kids between the ages of 14 and 18 die as drivers in auto accidents and car crashes in shocking numbers in this country, and motor vehicle fatalities are the number one killer of American teens.

Which means that there is a new national campaign trying to enlist the support of parents, teachers, and other adults to help make teenagers more aware of the very real danger of taking the wheel of a car, SUV, or truck. Called “5 to Drive,” it encourages teen drivers to make sure these five things are in place when they are driving: No Cell Phones, No Extra Passengers, No Speeding, No Alcohol, and Always Buckle-up.

From the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration:

  • Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 14- to 18-year-olds in the United States.
  • In 2011, 2,105 teen drivers were involved in fatal crashes. Almost half (45%) of those teen drivers died in the crashes.
  • One-fifth (20%) of the teen drivers killed in fatal crashes in 2011 did not have a valid driver license at the time of the crash.
  • The first six months of unsupervised driving are the most hazardous for teen drivers.

Teenagers Can Get Driver’s Licenses When They are 15 (Illinois) or 16 Years Old (Indiana)

Teenagers are allowed to drive without supervision in this country once they are issued a license to drive by the state in which they reside. Each state has different rules and regulations for issuing a Driver’s License. For example, there are some states that issue valid driver’s licenses to teenagers as young as 14 years old; many states allow 16 year olds to drive cars with a state license.

In Indiana, a “probationary driver’s license” can be obtained by a teenager as young as 16.   In Illinois, a “ graduated driver’s license” can be issued for a teenager as young as 15.

Indiana

Teenagers under the age of 18 years old can get an Indiana driver’s license, but it is considered a “Probationary Driver’s License” until they reach the age of eighteen. With an Indiana Probationary Driver’s License, there are legal limitations on the teen driver, which include:

Teen drivers are forbidden to use any type of telecommunication device while driving except to make emergency 911 calls.
Teen drivers are forbidden to drive with passengers for 180 days after getting the probationary license, unless the passenger is in the front seat and (1) a licensed instructor, (2) an individual with a valid Indiana driver’s license who is at least twenty-five (25) years of age or (3)a spouse who is at least twenty-one (21) years of age.
Teen drivers are allowed the following passengers: (1) their child or step-child; (2) their sibling, step or half sibling; and (3) their spouse during the hours allowed by law without another accompanying individual.
Teen drivers are not allowed to drive between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for 180 days after getting your license.
After a teen driver has driven for 6t months (180 days), they are still barred from driving between these time periods, unless they are (1) traveling to/from work, a school-sanctioned activity, or a religious event; or (2) if there is someone with them in the vehicle with a valid driving privileges who is (a) at least twenty-five (25) years of age or (b) a spouse with valid driving privileges at least twenty-one (21) years of age:

  • Saturday and Sunday, between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m.
  • Sunday through Thursday, after 11 p.m.
  • Monday through Friday, before 5 a.m.

Illinois

Teenagers in Illinois may get a Graduated Driver’s License when they are 15 years old, but the Illinois driver’s license for the Illinois teenager will not be free of special restrictions until the teenager reaches the age of 18 years old.  The Graduated Driver License provides:

Permit Phase Drivers Age 15

  • Parent/legal guardian consent required to obtain an instruction permit.
  • Must be enrolled in an approved driver education course, and must pass vision and written tests.
  • Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).
  • Permit must be held for a minimum of nine months.
  • Must practice driving a minimum of 50 hours, including 10 hours at night, supervised by a parent or adult age 21 or older with a valid driver’s license.
  • Must not acquire any driving convictions during the nine-month permit phase.
  • Number of passengers limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.
  • Permit is valid for up to two years.

Initial Licensing Phase — Drivers Age 16-17

  • Parent/legal guardian must certify that a minimum of 50 hours of practice driving, including 10 hours at night, has been completed.
  • Parent/legal guardian must accompany teen to provide written consent to obtain a driver’s license, OR complete and notarize an Affidavit/Consent for Minor to Drive form.
  • Must have completed a state-approved driver education course.
  • Nighttime driving restrictions — Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m. (local curfews may differ).
  • Must maintain a conviction-free driving record for six months prior to turning 18 before moving to the Full Licensing Phase. A traffic conviction during the Initial Licensing Phase may extend restrictions beyond age 18.
  • All occupants must wear safety belts.
  • For the first 12 months of licensing, or until the driver turns 18, whichever occurs first, the number of passengers is limited to one person under age 20, unless the passenger(s) is a sibling, stepsibling, child or stepchild of the driver. After this period, the number of passengers is limited to one in the front seat and the number of safety belts in the back seat.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.

Full Licensing Phase – Drivers 18-20

  • No age-related restrictions apply except in cases where a driver fails to move from the Initial Licensing Phase to the Full Licensing Phase.
  • Cell phone use while driving is prohibited for drivers under age 19, except in the case of an emergency.
  • Texting while driving is prohibited.

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For more information about traffic fatalities and motor vehicle accidents, please visit Kenneth J. Allen Law Group’s web resources page on motor vehicle accidents as well as our other blog posts dealing with auto accidents and car crashes.

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