Schools honored for teen driving safety efforts

Staff reports

Schools across the state were honored by the Illinois Department of Transportation today for their participation in the 2010 Operation Teen Safe Driving program.

Schools were ranked for their performances in the program and acknowledged at a Statehouse news conference. Pekin High School took first place in its region, while Lanphier and Southeast high schools in Springfield were third and four in their areas respectively.

Operation Teen Safe Driving is a peer-led initiative that attempts to reduce teenage deaths and injuries behind the wheel. Schools that placed received a cash price of up to $2,500 for post-prom events.

Officials say traffic deaths have fallen to levels not seen since Warren G. Harding was in the White House. There were 911 traffic deaths in Illinois in 2009, down from 1,043 deaths in 2008.

"This is the first time since 1921 that we've actually gotten below 1,000," said Michael Stout, director of IDOT's Division of Traffic Safety. "While we recognize that as too many deaths and it's unacceptable, we will continue to strive to reduce that number even further towards our goal of zero fatalities."

Teen driving deaths also are down, and officials credit new laws and programs like this for the improvement.

State Capitol Bureau