IL teen driver deaths cut in half over past decade

CARBONDALE, IL (KFVS) - According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, the number of drivers between the age of 16 and 19 getting into fatal car accidents has dropped by 51 percent over the past 10 years.

In 2016, there were only 76 deaths in this category.

Illinois Secretary of State, Jesse White said the state's Graduated Drivers License Program is the reason why. He is joined by many drivers education instructors in the state, like Kim Wheeler, who teaches the course at Carbondale Community High School.

"I think through education in the school system tied in with the GDL has played a huge part in that," Wheeler said in regard to the lowering number of teen motor fatalities.

The GDL is a program in which new drivers must complete specific requirements in three different phases between the ages of 15 and 21. An example of requirements would be parents logging the hours their children are practicing driving. Teen drivers have to reach 50 hours in the first phase.

Wheeler said as these new drivers make progress they are given more privileges like being able to have a single friend riding as a passenger in the car. Family members are excluded from rules like these.

Wheeler thinks the most important part of the program is teen drivers being required to take a driver's education course by the time they are 18.

She also said that since the program has been in place for a decade now, there are more adults practicing safe driving habits. She said this provides a good example for teenage drivers to follow, making them safer on the road.

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