National Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 17-23. The Illinois Insurance Association joins the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Governors Highway Safety Association and state and local traffic officials in bringing awareness to this important campaign.

Nearly half of teen drivers have car crashes before graduating high school. Out-of-pocket repairs, medical bills, third-party damages and increased insurance premiums often accompany these incidents. Even worse are fatal motor vehicle accidents.

The IIA and its members urge residents to embrace laws that improve beginning motorists’ driving skills. Illinois’ graduated driver’s license law requires extended supervised driving time. The ban on hand-held cell phones, passenger limitations and night driving restrictions improve crash statistics for young drivers as well.

Unsafe actions behind the wheel jeopardize lives and make travel dangerous. Talk about driving distractions and best practices to minimize them. Urge teens to limit cell phone use and never text while driving. Discuss driving through rain, fog, snow and ice. Be sure they know how to react to deteriorating road conditions. Promote good sleeping habits. Drowsiness compromises the driver’s ability to operate the vehicle. Encourage responsible practices such as focusing on the roadway, observing posted speed limits, leaving enough distance between cars, keeping emotion out of the driver seat, wearing seatbelts and no drinking and driving.

Teen driver safety is everyone’s responsibility. Together, we can make a difference.

Kevin J. Martin

Executive director, Illinois Insurance Association