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In Illinois, teens must complete at least 50 hours of behind-the-wheel training in addition to the driver education coursework. This driving practice can be done under the supervision of your parents. You can also practice driving with anyone over 21 who has had a license for more than a year.
Your parent or guardian should log all the time you drove with an adult using the 50-Hour Certification form. You will need to give this signed form to the Driver Services Department when you apply for your permanent license.
If you're under 18, you need parental consent to obtain a learner's permit―which you'll need so you can practice driving. Your parents also must give their approval for you to receive a license, even if you've met all the other requirements. So be nice to Mom and Dad while they practice driving with you and let you use their car. It's probably going to be a little nerve-racking for both of you.
It's not only teens who need to be patient. Illinois also cautions parents about the driver licensing process. If you're a parent helping your teen learn to drive, here are some tips:
- Be sure the driving instruction occurs under a variety of weather and traffic conditions.
- No matter how your child pleads, you are the one who ultimately decides when the time is right to begin the driver training process. But don't push a reluctant teen too fast, either.
- Your teen learns just as much by watching you drive. Your choices have a powerful impact on what they will do as drivers. Don't let this impact be a negative one.
- Make sure the car you provide is safe and functions properly. It's hard enough to try to learn to drive without worrying that the engine is about to die or that the tire might blow.
- Your child's school driving instructor is a valuable resource. Contact them for input on how your child is doing in class and what you can do to enhance their learning process behind the wheel.
- Make sure you are carrying enough car insurance. Contact your insurance agent prior to beginning driver training in your vehicle.
- Take drinking and driving seriously. Write up a contract between you and your teen. Put it in writing that you will help them get home without getting angry if they find themselves in a situation where they or their friends have been drinking. And remind your teen about the Zero Tolerance law in Illinois: Any amount of alcohol, no matter how small, is enough to get them convicted of a drunk driving offense.
- Make a plan together for what to do if your teen is in an accident. Cover how important it is not to leave the scene of an accident, and who to call if there is one.
Here's a little friendly advice for new drivers from someone who's been there. They don't teach you everything in school!
- Don't order mega-size drinks at the drive-through. They tip over in the drink holders when you turn or stop, and if you hold the drink between your legs for stability, then you can't operate the floor pedals.
- Don't try to eat a sandwich or burger while you're driving. The mayonnaise-covered tomatoes will fall into your lap and you'll have to make a snap decision between swerving to the curb (bad) or leaving the grease stain on your jeans (bad).
- Don't make or receive calls on your cell phone while you are driving. It's bad karma, everyone else on the road will be irritated with you, and you won't realize you're going too slow and swerving all over the place until you cause an accident. Same goes for applying makeup while driving: just don't!
- Don't under any circumstances send a text message when you're at the wheel. The police officer won't be sympathetic when you explain that you absolutely, positively could not wait until you pulled off the road to text "c u soon" to your best friend, so instead you rear-ended someone while your eyes and thumbs were busy on the keypad.
- Don't be lame and give in to peer pressure. If some nimrod in the back seat says, "How fast can this thing go?" ignore them―they're not the one who will get busted or cause an accident. Someone in the car has to be the grown-up: you.
- Don't panic and jump out of the car if you notice a bee on the inside of the windshield. Ever seen your car roll down the street without a driver? You don't want to.
- Do wear your seatbelt every time you get into a car, even for a short ride. Something as common as stopping suddenly to avoid a cat darting across the street can cause your face to meet your steering wheel. The results won't be pretty, and your prom date will find an excuse to back out.
- Do be vigilant for other drivers who are not as with-it as you are, and keep your distance. You never know when they will decide to enter your space (since they won't bother to signal), and the element of surprise isn't as fun on the road as it is at a birthday party.
- Do install a dog barrier in the back of your car before taking Rover for a ride. Rover will want to be in the front seat with you, and trying to swat him back with one hand while steering with the other is a sure way to take out a whole line of parked cars.
- Do obey speed limits so that you will have time to react should an unexpected obstacle (a person, another car, an animal) appear. Besides, no one will believe you got that huge dent going "only 10 miles an hour."
- Do listen to your stereo at a low enough volume that you can hear emergency sirens. Those fire trucks are a lot bigger than you, so you'll want to know one is approaching before it runs you over.
- Do take it easy, pay attention, and take the rules of the road seriously. In a few years when you can honestly say you've never had a ticket or an accident, people will respect you, and it will be an enormous point of pride.
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