Illinois Passes Stricter Driver Ed Rules After Cars.com Investigation

Photo Courtesy of Chicago Tribune

Almost one year after a joint investigation by Cars.com and the Chicago Tribune that highlighted aging and unsafe driver’s education fleets, the state of Illinois passed a law to improve safety in these programs.

It's 10 a.m.: Do You Know What Car Your Kid is Driving?

The reporting done by Duaa Eldeib at the Tribune and Cars.com Editor-in-Chief Patrick Olsen discovered that safety was rarely a priority when public schools purchased cars for their driver’s education classes.

"This was a safety issue and a transparency issue," said the law's sponsor, state Sen. Susan Garrett.

  • The law, which was signed Friday and goes into effect Jan. 1, requires districts with driver's ed cars older than five years or with more than 75,000 miles to be inspected annually by the Illinois Department of Transportation. Cars used by commercial driving schools are currently required to undergo IDOT inspections twice a year. The cost for the inspection is about $25 per car, an IDOT spokesman said.

While inspections might not be cost prohibitive for smaller school districts with few cars, the worst district we uncovered, Chicago Public Schools, had 150 vehicles in its fleet. It has ordered 20 new vehicles, but the Illinois Association of School Boards opposed the measure because of concerns over the added costs that could be passed on through higher fees to students.

Related
Cars in Schools' Driver Education Programs Face Stricter Safety Requirements (Chicago Tribune)
It's 10 a.m.: Do You Know What Car Your Kid is Driving?
Top 10 Best and Worst Chicagoland Driver's Ed Fleets

By David Thomas | August 22, 2012 | Comments (5)

Comments 

John

We live in Munster, Indiana, a southeast suburb of Chicago, and both of my kids--17 and 19--drove relatively new Toyota Camrys. Most of the driver's ed programs in the area have newer cars with the latest safety technology; maybe this problem is endemic to Chicago/urban areas.

Richard

I learned in a Camry and I'm down in the Peoria area. It must be a Chicago thing.

Steve Lavrenz

It shouldn't matter if it means slightly higher fees for students; the IASB should never have been opposed to this. It would be tantamount to them being opposed to requiring school cafeterias to cook their foods to a safe temperature, because the cost of the extra gas/electricity would mean higher fees for students.

Josh Lucas

Once they get the new cars-maybe they'll actually teach people how to drive...not slam on the brakes every time there's an on or off ramp, it starts to very lightly rain, a squirrel sneezes three blocks away or it even 'looks like' someone might change lanes or merge from a transition road. The initial reaction is always either slam on the brakes or change lanes (often without looking or indicating)...or both.

I grew up in California and thought that people there couldn't drive...until I spent my first six months in Illinois.

This will help to keep more young people alive. They should be the ones to think about their own welfare as well. Who wants to be brain damaged at 17 because their vehicle was faulty?

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