Fewer 16-year-olds are registering for driver’s licenses in Illinois, according to Chicago Breaking News… but why?
[In 2006] Illinois lawmakers doubled the number of hours — to 50 from 25 — of adult-supervised driving required before a driver with a learner’s permit could get a license. The next year, the number of 16-year-olds with licenses dropped by nearly 5 percent — to 74,675 from 78,250 — even though the state’s teen population increased.
Then, on Jan. 1, 2008, Illinois imposed a sweeping overhaul of teen driving laws, the heart of which tripled the length of time — to 9 months from 3 months — a teen driver must possess a learner’s permit before acquiring a license. That year, the number of 16-year-olds with licenses dropped again, this time by 17 percent, to 61,862.
The decrease is continuing. The Illinois secretary of state’s office estimates that fewer than 60,000 driver’s licenses were issued to 16-year-olds in 2009.
The usual economy and internet-based explanations are trotted out, but it seems that mandating supervised driving hours keeps kids out of cars. And though that’s good news for Illinois drivers, it’s certainly not a trend that the auto industry wants to see followed. After all, safety is a box on an option list, not something that reduces demand for cars, right? On the other hand, just because kids aren’t registering for driver’s licenses, doesn’t mean they’re not driving. Should we do away with mandatory supervision to drive the market for cars, or should supervised hours or a more thorough form of mandatory training be instituted? Or, should the legal driving age simply be moved up to 18? Better yet, forget the politics: do you let your 16 year-old drive, and if so how do you prepare them?