Reducing teen crash rates

Teen Driving Privileges Linked to School Attendance

There’s a new state law in Illinois that is supposed to crack down on teen driving privileges. The gist of it all is basically that teens that are truant in school and cut classes or are expelled could have their driving permits suspended until they turn 18. Apparently, lawmakers want to provide incentive for kids to stay in school.

There is some debate as to whether this new law will work or not. Various versions of this law have been passed in other states but the verdict is still out as to how well it is working. Eighteen unexcused absences, expulsion or dropping out are three ways that teenagers can lose their driving permits in Illinois.

Skeptics wonder how much of an impact this can have on teenagers. If they are aware of this new law long before they are eligible for driving, perhaps it will make some impression on those new teens that are starving for a little independence that driving can bring. However, exactly how is this new law going to be relayed to the teenagers that could be affected by it now?

Are schools going to go out of their way to broadcast this change? Chances are they will claim that they do not have adequate resources. Plus, teenagers have to do something drastic in order to have their driving permits revoked. By the time cutting classes or expulsion are caught, it is almost too late to do anything about it anyway. And 18 unexcused absences are quite excessive. Wouldn’t it be more effective if the requirement were half that?

The bottom line is while the law has good intentions, the problems lies in reinforcing it. Schools are overextended already. How is that information about unexcused absences, truancy and expulsion going to be relayed to the powers that be? Who is planning to do all the following up? It could literally take several years before the law really catches on and the truancy problems start to decline.

In the meantime, you have teens who would likely continue to drive even with truancy problems at school. Their misdeeds could literally take months to catch up with them in the form of a revoked driving permit. And for some, they could age out before they reap any consequences. That is not much of a slap on the wrist is it? This new law is a bit hazy still on how everything is supposed to play out. It will just have to be a wait and see game.