Distracted Driving and Safety for Young Drivers

Distracted teen driver

Distracted driving is the biggest scourge to the safety of the roadways. Considering the average text takes less than 5 seconds to send, you would think that little time away from full attention would not matter much.

But you would be wrong.

If a vehicle is traveling 55 miles per hour while texting, that vehicle will travel about as far as a football field while blindfolded.

Fifty-eight percent of all crashes involving teen drivers can be blamed, at least in part, on distracted driving.

The Law

Section 12-610.2 of the Illinois Motor Vehicle Code bans any usage of electronic communication devices (ECDs) while driving. There are exceptions for emergencies and the like.

Drivers under 19 years old, known legally as “novice drivers,” are prevented from using cell phones at all (even hands free) while driving.

What can you do?

Teens know they cannot text and drive. It’s the law. But that does not stop the temptation.

Model appropriate behavior. They watch what you do, so don’t let them see you text (or check internet or email or Facebook) ever when you drive.

Talk to them about driving being a privilege, not a right. If you find out they are driving distractedly, take away their keys and right to your vehicle for a time.

Check your phone bill and usage. You’d be amazed what you can learn just by looking at the times they are using their phone. For instance, if usage seems to spike right after school is out, you might ask some questions about whether they were driving any of that time. Just engaging in the act of asking puts them on notice you are aware of what they are doing. This is not helicopter parenting; it is life and death.

Ensure They are Protected By Insuring Them

Adequate insurance is a must and a legal requirement for all drivers in Illinois. It is all the more important for a young driver. Younger and less experienced drivers are likely to experience crashes at a much higher rate than others.

The state minimum for liability insurance is $25,000 per person per incident and $50,000 per incident. If you think this will cover anyone for severe injuries, think again. Just think what happens if your teen driver hits someone in the crosswalk and they sustain a fractured leg and miss 4 months from work. Just the hospital and surgical bills alone would not be covered by a state minimal policy. Do you really want to leave your personal assets, your house, your savings at risk?

Be sure your newer driver carries his or her auto insurance card at all times.

As mentioned in this blog multiple times in the past, you should always have the highest coverage possible. I always recommend if you have children that the limits of liability be a minimum of $500,000 and possibly up to $1,000,000. In fact, if you own a house, or have significant assets of any type, it is almost a given that you should have a limit of $1 million plus an umbrella policy that covers anything over that amount. All it takes is one mistake by a young driver to endanger all that you’ve worked for.

If you have priced insurance for teen drivers, you know that it is very costly. This is part of the package along with insane food bills and the apparent inability to either communicate or do laundry. Teens are extremely costly to insure. As stated above, the reason is their propensity for getting into crashes. Don’t make the mistake of assuming your teen is special. It can happen to anyone. Be ready in case it does.

Distraction Contraction

Teens driving now are subjected to distractions our distracted minds could only dream of back in the dark ages of the late 70s. Sure, we had the radio, food, other cars, and girls to distract us, but teens today have grown up their entire lives with mobile computers that are at their beck and call 24/7.

While driver’s education and law enforcement have combined nicely to limit teen texting and phone use while driving (it is reinforced as an absolute never do no no), humans are still our own worst enemies. Be honest, the safest drivers would probably admit to checking their phones while driving on occasion. What do you think teens (especially males, those of the still-developing brains) might do?

It is never a bad idea to model good habits. Never use your phone while in the car. Put it away in the console. Model good, legal, behavior for your teen. Talk to your new driver about the penalties, and more importantly, the consequences of even a few seconds of phone usage. There are just oodles of unfortunate stories of deaths and catastrophic injuries caused by a mere second or two of inattention.

Accidents Happen

Talk to your new driver about what happens if they do get into a crash, whether it is their fault or not. What to Do In the Event of An Accident.

Drive With Your Kids/Drive Your Kids Crazy

Your children may not be all that thrilled with having to drive with their parents. The revised driver’s education requirements force this to happen far more than it did in my day. As long as you are both stuck with one another, here are a few tips on how to make that coexistence fun and productive:

  • Let them drive to their events
  • Challenge them to show you where the fun places to drive
  • Let them play their music and talk about it while driving
  • Talk about anything but driving and let them actually relax a bit and perhaps enjoy the experience

Contact a Personal Injury Lawyer

If you have the misfortune of having your newer driver be involved in a crash, contact a lawyer immediately.


  • Drive safely and defensively
  • Get your vehicle ready
  • Accidents happen
  • Insurance
  • Teach your children well
  • Contact a lawyer

Contact Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer Stephen Hoffman

As in all cases involving injury and potential liability, immediately get medical treatment, report the crash to police and your own insurance company, and contact a personal injury lawyer.

If you've been in an accident and have questions, contact Chicago personal injury attorney Stephen L. Hoffman for a free consultation at (773) 944-9737. Stephen has nearly 30 years of legal experience and has collected millions of dollars for his clients. He has been named a SuperLawyer, has a 10.0 rating on Avvo, and is BBB A+ accredited. He is also an Executive Level Member of the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce.

Stephen handles personal injury and workers' compensation claims on a contingency fee basis, which means you don’t pay anything upfront and he only gets paid if you do. Don’t wait another day, contact Stephen now.

Categories: General