Chicago parents urged to talk to teen drivers about how to avoid car accidents — Operation Teen Safe Driving begins with school year

Authorities are emphasizing the importance of save driving habits among teenagers as the school year begins in an effort to reduce Illinois car accidents involving teenagers, including drunk driving accidents and speeding.

Since its inception in 2007, Illinois’ Operation Teen Safe Driving has been credited with reducing fatalities among teen motorists — from 82 in the first six months of 2007, to 39 during the same period last year.

Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young people age 15 to 24, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Each year in the United States, more than 8,000 teens lose their lives in traffic crashes — more than 400,000 are injured in traffic crashes.

Illinois’ Operation Teen Safe Driving was created to combat the major reasons teens are killed or seriously injured in traffic crashes, including: lack of safety belt use, speed, distraction, impaired driving or lack of experience.

A new law that took effect Jan. 1, 2008, doubled the time young drivers must spend supervised before they can obtain an Illinois’ driver’s license.

“The improved graduated driver licensing law that resulted from the recommendations of the Teen Driver Safety Task Force makes Illinois’ teen driver program one of the strongest in the nation and, more importantly, is saving lives,” said Secretary of State Jesse White. “I am encouraged that teen driving deaths have dropped by over 40 percent in the first full year of the law. This law, in conjunction with the Operation Teen Safe Driving initiative, is having the intended impact on teen driving safety.”

For more information, or if you have questions concerning the program,
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According to federal statistics:

– Per mile driven, teen drivers ages 16 to 19 are four times more likely than older drivers to crash.

– Among teen drivers, those at especially high risk for motor vehicle crashes are:

Males: In 2005, the motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers ages 16 to 19 was more than one and a half times that of their female counterparts.

Teens driving with teen passengers: The presence of teen passengers increases the crash risk of unsupervised teen drivers. This risk increases with the number of teen passengers.

Newly licensed teens: Crash risk is particularly high during the first year that teenagers are eligible to drive.

What are the major risk factors?

Teens are more likely than older drivers to underestimate dangerous situations or not be able to recognize hazardous situations.

Teens are more likely than older drivers to speed and allow less room for reaction time. The presence of male teenage passengers increases the likelihood of this risky driving behavior.

Among male drivers between 15 and 20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes in 2005, 38% were speeding at the time of the crash and 24% had been drinking.

Compared with other age groups, teens have the lowest rate of seat belt use. In 2005, 10% of high school students reported they rarely or never wear seat belts when riding with someone else.

In a national survey of seat belt use among high school students:
Male high school students (12.5%) were more likely than female students (7.8%) to rarely or never wear seat belts.

African-American students (13.4%) and Hispanic students (10.6%) were more likely than white students (9.4%) to rarely or never wear seat belts.

At all levels of blood alcohol concentration (BAC), the risk of involvement in a motor vehicle crash is greater for teens than for older drivers.

In 2005, 23% of drivers ages 15 to 20 who died in motor vehicle crashes had a BAC of 0.08 g/dl or higher.

In a national survey conducted in 2005, nearly three out of ten teens reported that, within the previous month, they had ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol. One in ten reported having driven after drinking alcohol within the same one-month period.

In 2005, three out of four teen drivers killed in motor vehicle crashes after drinking and driving were not wearing a seat belt.

In 2005, half of teen deaths from motor vehicle crashes occurred between 3 p.m. and midnight and 54% occurred on Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

If you or someone you love has been seriously injured or killed in a car accident, there are things you can do to help protect your rights. The personal injury and wrongful death lawyers at Abels & Annes offer free appointments to discuss your rights. Call (312) 924-7575.

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