The Dangers of Teen Driving

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Recent tragic accidents, which took the lives of 15 teenagers, and numerous others, are a reminder to the Chicago attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. of the dangers of teen driving.

In one of the accidents, which occurred on March 12, 2012 in a small Illinois community in Will County, 4 teens ages 14 to 17 drowned after their vehicle plunged off a bridge. It is uncertain as to whether road conditions or speed played a role in this accident .
On the same day, another accident occurred in Ohio, which took the lives of 6 teens, ages 14 to 19, when the SUV, being operated by one of the victims crashed into a guardrail and flipped over into an adjacent pond. It was later discovered that the SUV, which was only equipped for 5 passengers, was carrying 8 passengers, none of whom were wearing safety belts. Investigators also reported that the driver was traveling faster than the posted speed limit.

The Illinois and Ohio accidents came following another accident, which took the lives of 5 teenagers, only a few days prior in a fiery accident in Texas. The accident occurred after the 16 year old driver, who was carrying 4 passengers, ages 15-17, ran a stop sign, which resulted in collision with a fuel tanker. All 5 occupants in the teen’s vehicle died at the scene; the truck driver was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, with reports of burns over 90% of his body.
In yet another accident, occurring in Nevada on March 20, 2013, an SUV being operated by an 18 year old, collided with the rear end of a passenger van carrying 7 family members. Heartbreakingly, 5 of the van’s occupants, including a 13 year old died as a result of the crash. The 18 year old driver of the SUV was later arrested on suspicion of driving while under the influence.

Unfortunately, tragic accidents involving teen drivers have become a commonplace in Illinois and throughout the nation as well. Although many states, Illinois included, have driving restrictions for teen drivers, accidents involving teens continue to occur at alarming rates. The Chicago accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. are concerned for the safety of our roadways, which are shared with teen drivers, many of whom fail to abide by traffic laws and/or licensing requirements. See our post on Illinois Graduated Licensing Program for more information.

Illinois Graduated Licensing Program
Illinois currently adheres to a graduated driver licensing programing, consisting of 3 phases. During the first phase, the learner stage, 15 year olds may obtain a permit with parental consent. This permit must be held for a minimum of 9 months, during which time the teen must complete a minimum of 50 hours of driving time that is supervised by an individual 21 years or older having a valid driver’s license. In addition, 10 of these hours must be during the night time, but not during restricted driving hours (Sun-Thur 10 p.m. – 6a.m. & Fri-Sat 11 p.m. – 6 a.m.).
During the Second phase, also called the Intermediate Stage or Initial Licensing Phase, teen drivers between the ages of 16 and 17, drivers who have successfully completed the learner’s phase requirements, as well as a state-approved driver’s education course, may obtain a driver’s license with parental consent. During the first 12 months of this phase, and with exceptions provided for sibling passengers, drivers are restricted to one passenger under 20 years of age, and are prohibited from driving during restricted hours. Additionally, drivers must maintain a conviction-free driving record during the six months prior to turning 18 in order to proceed to the full licensing phase.

The final phase, also called the full licensing or full privilege stage, is available to drivers aged 18 years and older. Restrictions during this phase will only apply if violations occurred in previous stages. For example, if a moving violation occurred during the first 12 months of the Initial Licensing phase, the passenger restriction will be extended for an additional six months.

The Chicago injury and accident attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. recognize the risks associated with teen driving, for both teen drivers and their passengers, as well as for other motorists who share the roadways. As reported by the Associated Press, “teen deaths from car crashes are on the decline in the United States, dropping from 8,748 in 1975 to 3,115 in 2010, according to the insurance institute, but the risk of being in an accident is three times higher for teens than older drivers.”

If you or a loved one was involved in an accident involving a teen driver, or your teen was injured as a result of another motorist, a licensed Illinois attorney can discuss your legal rights to determine the appropriate course of action. For a FREE CONSULATION with a Chicago accident attorney, or wrongful death lawyer, contact Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C. today at (773) 516-4100, or online at www.zneimerlaw.com.