Teen Drivers and Fatal Car Accidents: High Risk in Indiana and Illinois


Teen Drivers and Fatal Car Accidents: High Risk in Indiana and Illinois

National Teen Driver Safety Week is October 16 – 22, 2016. Teenagers behind the wheel? There’s an increased danger of accidents, injuries, and death.

Once again, we are doing our part to promote public awareness of the dangers facing our teenagers driving on the roads of Indiana and Illinois, as part of National Teen Driver Safety Week.

Did you know that traffic accidents are the number one cause of death for drivers between the ages of 14 and 18? And that more teenagers die in car crashes (as passengers as well as drivers) along with suffering permanent and life-long injuries than in any other type of accident?

There are few accidents that are more tragic than an auto accident or car crash where a young person is seriously hurt or killed. All too often, there will be teen driver who has made a newbie mistake while driving, or has been tempted to text while driving or otherwise gets distracted from driving their vehicle.

We know that it’s not smart to try and “scare straight” teen drivers — that approach doesn’t work. Teenagers work better with a respectful approach.

So this week, we’re providing information important to teen drivers and those who love them to try and prevent serious teen driving accidents. And we’re also going to explain what victims of teen driver accidents under Indiana and Illinois accident laws can expect in the event of a serious or deadly teen driving crash.

Definition of the Teen Driver: When Can A Teenager Start to Drive and Get a Driver’s License?

Teens can get a driver’s license in both Indiana and Illinois. There’s no law that requires someone to be a legal adult here before they can drive a car.

You can drive a car in Indiana when you are as young as 16 years old. In Illinois, it’s even younger. Teens as young as 15 years of age can get a valid state driver’s license.

State Laws Limit Teen Drivers

Now, these may not be the same kind of driver’s license that you carry in your wallet or purse. Young teens will be driving their cars or SUVs with a “probationary driver’s license.” This still means that you may be sharing the road with these inexperienced drivers. However, these probationary licenses do try and address the newbie drivers with conditions on their operating the vehicle.

Indiana Teen Drivers: Probationary Driver’s License Limitations

For instance, in Indiana, teenage drivers under the age of 18 years have the following limits on their driving under the law as “probationary drivers” here:

1. They are not allowed to use “any type of telecommunication device while driving” — unless they need to call 911.

2. Teen drivers in Indiana legally cannot drive at night for the first 6 months after they get their license. Officially, they cannot drive between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. for the first 180 days after being licensed.

3. Indiana teens get a bit more freedom on the road after the first six months of having a driver’s license. However, until they turn 18 years old, they are still prohibited from driving during certain risk times:

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

4. Indiana teen drivers are allowed to drive “at any time” if they are driving to work, or home from work; or if they are driving to/from a religious event; or if they are driving to or from a school-sanctioned activity.

5. Indiana teen drivers are allowed to drive “at any time” if they are driving with someone in the front passenger seat who is either (1) over the age of 25 years with a valid driver’s license or (2) with their spouse who is at least 21 years old and has a valid driver’s license.

6. Indiana teen drivers cannot drive with passengers in their vehicle for the first six months that they have their probationary driver’s license unless:

A. They are transporting their child, stepchild, brother, sister, step-brother, step-sister, half-brother, or half-sister during the hours allowed by law for a probationary driver to be on the road; or
B. The passenger is a legally allowed passenger (as defined above) or is a licensed driving instructor.

Illinois Teen Drivers: Graduated Drivers’ Licenses

Illinois has a staggered series of limitations for those drivers under the age of 21, but who have their license as early as age 15. No cell phone use except to call 911 for any driver under the age of 19 years (even hands free). These are called “graduated driver services” in Illinois:

Permit for Teen Drivers Age 15 Years

Curfews on driving: cannot drive in Illinois on Sun.-Thurs., 10 p.m.-6 a.m.; Fri.-Sat., 11 p.m.-6 a.m.
Practice driving for minimum of 50 hours, including 10 hours at night under supervision of someone 21 years or older with a valid driver’s license.
Can have one passenger in the front seat and as many passengers as there are safety belts in the back seat. Everyone in the vehicle has to buckle up.

Teen Drivers Ages 16 – 17

Curfews on driving: same as 15 year old drivers.
Passengers allowed if buckled up. For the first year, or until the driver turns 18 if that occurs first, only one passenger under the age of 20, unless they are a sibling, step-sibling, child, or step-child. Then, can have one passenger in the front seat and and as many passengers as there are safety belts in the back seat. Everyone in the vehicle has to buckle up.

Drivers Ages 18 – 20

No restrictions unless they failed to complete requirements for licensing in earlier phases. Anyone here who didn’t take a driver’s ed class before now has to complete a 6 hour adult driver’s education course before getting a driver’s license.

Accidents Caused by Teen Drivers in Indiana or Illinois

If a driver causes an accident in either Indiana or Illinois, he can be held accountable for the accident’s aftermath. That’s standard negligence law for Indiana and Illinois.

Negligent drivers can face claims and demands both from their passengers as well as those third parties who have been injured in the crash. Other drivers, passengers, pedestrians, bicyclists, — anyone injured by the driver’s failure to drive as a reasonable and prudent driver would in the circumstances can seek redress for their harm.

When an underage driver is negligent, then special considerations apply to the accident. Was the teen driver driving within the confines of the limitations placed upon him or her by the licensing restrictions? Was the teen driver distracted in some way?

What about their parents – are they liable, too?

In our next post, we’ll discuss the importance of safety measures like safety belts, avoiding impairments like drugs or alcohol, and distracted driving dangers as they impact the teen driver and increase the risk of serious injury or death in a teen driving crash.

We’ll also consider how victims of teen drivers seek legal relief for their harm including wrongful death in a teen driving accident.  Let’s be careful out there!

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