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White Puts the Brakes on Teen Driving

By Olivia Leigh in News on Jan 24, 2007 9:00PM

Over the past year, it seemed as though a story about a car crash involving teens was on the Tribune’s Web site nearly every week. Apparently Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White noticed it, too, and will propose legislation to enhance the state's Graduated Licensing Program, aimed at curbing teen accidents later this week.

Under White’s recommendations, a learner’s permit will no longer be the speedy ticket to a driver’s license, but would triple the amount of time a teen would be required to hold one. (We can already hear the groans of the 15 year olds out there.) The new regulations would also ban kids under 18 from driving after 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends, with exemptions permitted for teens going to school-sponsored activities and work.

2007_01_driving.jpgTeens would also be required to receive a still-paltry six hours of supervised street driving. However, this is significantly more than the ludicrous one hour and 40 minutes of street driving with an instructor that some public school teens receive, instead practicing on indoor simulations and parking lots. We had no idea so many kids were learning to drive with a program that sounds akin to an arcade game. Surely there’s no way that some orange cones and virtual drivers could prepare teens for the real-world craziness of some guy in a Camaro cutting you off at 70 mph or trying to avoid the erratic stop-and-go driving of a little old lady.

A number of other laws were proposed, including raising the amount of time a driver can carry one unrelated teen passenger in the car to 12 months, with additional passengers facing ticketing themselves, and creating tough penalties for those involed in street racing (no 2 Fast 2 Furious for you!).

While we can imagine ourselves throwing a fit if we heard this type of news at 15, now that we’re older and wiser, we’re wholeheartedly in favor of the recommendations. We understand that having to possibly drive your child around or pick them up from parties can be a hassle for parents, and also understand the plight of the poor teenager who just might want to get a little bit of action with some hot babe past 11 p.m. But we’ve heard far too many stories of awful accidents, and we’ve seen with our own eyes the ridiculousness and “need for speed” that fresh-faced teen drivers can have.

So, deal with the changes, kiddos; pretty soon you'll be wishing you had someone to keep chauffeuring you around just like we do.

Photo fromBen McLeod.