Jesse White was elected the 37th Illinois Secretary of State in November 1998. In November 2002, he was re-elected by winning all 102 counties and garnering more than 2.3 million votes - the largest vote total by any candidate for Illinois statewide office in a quarter of a century.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office is the largest and most diverse office of its kind in the nation, providing more direct services to the people of Illinois than any other public agency. White's office issues state ID cards, vehicle license plates and titles, registers corporations, enforces the Illinois Securities Act, administers the Organ Donor Program, and licenses drivers and maintains driver records. As State Librarian, Secretary White oversees the State Library and literacy programs, and as State Archivist, he maintains records of legal or historic value.

Prior to his election as Secretary of State, White served as Cook County Recorder of Deeds - a job he was first elected to in 1992 and re-elected in 1996. Before that, he served 16 years in the Illinois General Assembly, representing the most culturally, economically and racially diverse district in Illinois.

In 1959, White founded the internationally known Jesse White Tumbling Team to serve as a positive alternative for children residing in and around the Chicagoland area. Since its inception, more than 10,600 young men and women have performed with the team. White has spent more than 46 years working as a volunteer with the team to help kids stay away from gangs, drugs, alcohol and smoking, and to help set at-risk youth on the path to success. The program has received international praise. In 2004, the team made over 1,000 performances throughout the nation.

White served our country as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army's 101st Airborne Division and as a member of the Illinois National Guard. He played professional baseball with the Chicago Cubs organization, which was followed by a 33-year career with the Chicago public school system as a teacher and administrator.

Jesse White earned his Bachelor of Science degree from Alabama State College (now Alabama State University) in 1957, where he was a two-sport athlete earning all-conference honors in baseball and basketball. In May 1995, White was inducted into the Southwestern Athletic Conference Hall of Fame. He was an all-city baseball and basketball player at Chicago's Waller High School (now Lincoln Park Academy) and was inducted into the Chicago Public League Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame in June 1995. In 1999, he was inducted into the Alabama State University Sports Hall of Fame. Born in Alton, Illinois, he now lives on Chicago's near-north side.


JESSE WHITE was elected the 37th Illinois Secretary of State in November 1998. In November 2002, he was reelected by winning all 102 counties and garnering more than 2.3 million votes – the largest vote total by any candidate for Illinois statewide office in a quarter of a century.

JESSE WHITE brought integrity and innovation to the Illinois Secretary of State's office. During his first term, he created a strong, independent Inspector General’s office, managed the largest distribution of new Illinois license plates in the state's history, successfully fought for tougher DUI laws, reformed the state's Commercial Driver's License program, and created the office's first online services.

The Illinois Secretary of State's office is the largest and most diverse office of its kind in the nation, providing more direct services to the people of Illinois than any other public agency. White's office issues state ID cards, vehicle license plates and titles, registers corporations, enforces the Illinois Securities Act, administers the Organ Donor Program, and licenses drivers and maintains driver records. As State Librarian, Secretary White oversees the State Library and literacy programs, and as State Archivist, he maintains records of legal or historic value.

First Term: Jan 1999 - Dec 20002

White Strengthens Inspector General's Office Secretary White restored integrity to the office he inherited under a cloud of corruption. He named former a U.S. Attorney, Jim Burns, as his Inspector General and gave him all the resources necessary to root out corruption including and increased staff of experienced, professional investigators.

White Issues New Design License Plates In his first term, Secretary of State Jesse White provided Illinois motorists with new-design license plates for the first time in nearly 20 years. Secretary White completed the state's largest replating operation in record time by streamlining the process and installing a new 21st century order management system. He also allowed Illinois citizens to choose the design of the license plate for the first time in history and created an online license plate renewal option.

White Creates New Temporary Registration Permits In 2001, Secretary White created a new Temporary Registration Permit (TRP) that provided law enforcement officials with instant vehicle registration information just like regular license plates. The new TRP, the first of its kind in the nation, was also designed to reduce fraud to further assist law enforcement officials.

White Installs Automated Testing Machines in Driver Services Facilities As a means to reduce cheating and improve highway safety, Secretary White began installing automated written testing equipment in Driver Services Facilities. The system has proven to reduce applicant cheating as well as improve customer service.

White Adds Online Services To Website The Secretary of State's web site reflects Jesse White's customer-friendly, business-minded attitude. Under Secretary White's direction, motorists were given the opportunity to renew their vehicle registrations and Safe Driver driver's licenses online. All business forms can now be filled in and printed out from the web, and numerous publications on various topics are being added every day. The web site's design stands out as one of the more pleasing, user-friendly, in state government.

White Establishes Court Supervision Database Shortly after he was elected Secretary of State, White initiated a new law that requires court systems in every county to report court supervisions to his office. He fought for the change in law following a catastrophic train wreck that was caused by a truck driver with multiple traffic violations. Because the driver had received court supervisions for violations in different counties, the records were not shared by the courts. The new reporting system provides judges and prosecutors with full records on all drivers who appear for traffic violations.

White Convenes Highway Safety 2000 Advisory Panel Secretary of State Jesse White established the Highway Safety 2000 Advisory Panel to improve traffic and truck safety on Illinois roadways. With the insight of the prestigious panel, White implemented more than a dozen new laws and regulations to give Illinois some of the toughest testing and training requirements for commercial truck drivers in the United States.

White Initiates Landmark Laws To Combat Repeat DUI Offenders and Suspended Drivers Jesse White established a comprehensive new law targeting some of the states most dangerous drivers and chronic offenders. The new law set tough new penalties for repeat DUI offenders, drivers who register at double the legal limit or drive drunk with a child in the vehicle, and people who continue to drive on suspended or revoked licenses. The new law provides tough new penalties with mandatory minimum sentencing requirements, including jail time, and the possible impoundment of vehicles.

White Expands the Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device Program Secretary White recognizes the importance of the BAIID device as a traffic safety measure. He has expanded the program substantially, requiring all repeat DUI offenders to use the devices and he established procedures to monitor users more closely.

White Improves Disabled Parking Placards to Combat Fraud Secretary White initiated legislation to crack down on the abuse of disabled parking placards and license plates. He also established a new disability parking division in the office and redesigned disability parking placards to reduce tampering and fraud.

White Establishes Project Next Generation In his role as state librarian, Secretary White created a statewide mentoring program called Project Next Generation, a library-based initiative that seeks to provide Illinois teenagers with a combination of technology and essential life skills. The program supplies public libraries with grants to purchase new computers and technology as well as hire mentors to work with sixth through ninth grade students. The program has expanded over the years as public libraries are proving to be the perfect environment for such interaction to take place.

White Creates New School Bus Safety Program Secretary White created a mascot named Toby Tire to educate kids about school bus safety. Toby Tire is a large robotic tire with arms and eyes capable of movement and speech in a life-like manner that captivates the attention of young children. The goal of Toby Tire is to educate children on school bus safety and prevent school bus accidents. Toby Tire travels extensively around the state in an effort to teach children safety techniques when taking a bus to and from school. The program also offers to children Toby Tire coloring books, videotapes and a storybook to reiterate Toby's message of school bus safety.

White Increases Organ/Tissue Donor Registry Under Secretary White's leadership, the Illinois organ donor registry has grown substantially and is the largest registry in the nation. Moreover, since Secretary White took office, the number of lives saved has increased annually to over 850 per year ñ marking a 20 percent increase from 1998. Much of the success of this program is attributed to the comprehensive public awareness and advertising campaigns spearheaded by the Secretary of State's office.

White Launches Organ Donation License Plate Chicago Bear great Walter Payton's struggle with rare liver cancer helped increase public attention on organ donation. In honor of Mr. Payton, and to continue raising public awareness of the critical need for organ and tissue donors, Secretary White has created the new Organ Donor License Plate, featuring the Chicago Bears' navy and orange colors and the familiar organ donor “Life Goes On” symbol. By purchasing a set of Organ Donor License Plates, Illinois residents can help fund organ donor awareness efforts across the state.

White Wins Case Against State of Oklahoma Over Trucking Registration Scheme Through the watchful eye of his auditors, Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White uncovered a scam and successfully sued the state of Oklahoma for allowing out-of-state trucking companies to improperly register there and report false mileage estimates that cheated Illinois and other states out of millions of dollars. After a three-year battle with the state of Oklahoma over registration fees for interstate trucks, the Secretary of State's Office was awarded $6.3 million by the International Registration Plan Dispute Resolution Committee.

White Unveils Long Range Plan to Improve Services In 2001, Secretary White proposed a 3-year plan to reduce lines at Drivers' Service Facilities. The plan outlined new, aggressive solutions to improve customer service including opening additional facilities in high population growth metropolitan areas, automated self-service machines, additional Internet transactions, and expanded hours of service.

White Establishes Penny Severns Scholarship Fund In honor of the late State Senator Penny Severns, Secretary White and Southern Illinois University pledged to secure funding for an endowed scholarship in the senator's name. The Penny Severns Scholarship Fund will not only preserve the legacy of a distinguished and beloved public servant, but it will also help to make the dreams of young people come true.

White Assists Victims of Violence Secretary White's new “Assistance for Victims of Violence” project is a cooperative effort coordinated by the Court of Claims with the State Library, the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Under this innovative program, librarians are taught how to turn libraries into a community resource and safe place for crime victims. Librarians learn how to give crime victims help and referrals to domestic violence shelters, rape crisis centers, and compensation for medical, counseling and other expenses.

White Helps Establish Emergency Fund for Crime Victims Secretary White, the Court of Claims and the Illinois Attorney General succeeded in passing legislation that creates a fund to provide eligible crime victims with up to $2,000 out of the potential $27,000 award to cover emergency needs. Emergency funds are disbursed by the department within 24 to 48 hours of application and approval by the court. While most awards move very swiftly, the emergency award provisions provide quick help in dire circumstances.

White Improves Compensation for Illinois Crime Victims The Illinois Court of Claims is the sole Illinois Court with jurisdiction in all lawsuits against the State of Illinois and for compensation under the Illinois Crime Victim's Compensation Act. When Secretary White took office, the Court of Claims department had almost 16,000 open cases. Under Secretary White, the number of cases pending resolution has decreased to approximately 5,000. The time span from filing to resolution also has dramatically decreased. Crime victim cases which previously would take almost four to five months are now being decided and vouchered, through a new paperless vouchering system put in place in January 2002, in approximately 60 days.

White Helps Libraries in Impoverished Communities Obtain Computers As the State Librarian, Secretary White's goal is to provide top-notch library and literacy services to all Illinois residents. However, he recognized that in order to fulfill this goal, communities that are economically impoverished must first be given the necessary tools. That's why he applied for and received grants through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to help Illinois public libraries serving communities of over 10 percent poverty obtain donated computers, computer installation, software and technical support.

White Opens New Building for Talking Book and Braille Service Under the administration of Secretary White, the regional library for Illinois residents who are print disabled moved to a newly renovated facility in Springfield that includes an onsite browsing room containing a collection of audio cassettes, braille books, descriptive videos and a computer center featuring assistive technology devices to help library clients use computers. The Illinois State Library Talking Book and Braille Service is a free mail order public library that allows readers to use the postal service to borrow books of their choice. Readers can order books by calling a reader advisor at one of the six subregional libraries, through the mail or directly over the Internet by visiting the Talking Book and Braille section of the library web site.

White Combats Securities Fraud Each year the Secretary's Enforcement Division investigates over 1,000 cases involving possible fraud. Under Secretary White, the division has successfully processed numerous cases that resulted in monies returned to investors and penalties assessed against violators. Among the most notable was a civil judgement of more than $4.8 million in the Circuit Court of Cook County. The case involved investors - mostly senior citizens - who had placed their money in fraudulent limited partnerships. In addition, the office amended the Illinois Securities Act to include stronger investor protection provisions, and the Securities Department continues its vigorous audit program that examines brokerage firms to ensure compliance with the laws.

White Provides Investor Education Secretary White created the Investor Education Division under the Department of Securities because the educated investor is truly the best defense against fraud. This division conducts free seminars about investing, and has developed a program on financial literacy targeting students.

White Hosts Illinois Capitol Forum Secretary White serves as co-sponsor with Brown University and the Illinois Humanities Council of the innovative Capitol Forum educational program. Capitol Forum engages high school students in consideration and debate over the role of the United States in the international community. Following classroom preparations, the students meet in the State Capitol to debate with other students from across Illinois and meet with business and legislative leaders. Illinois is one of only a handful of states chosen to participate in the joint effort. Under Secretary White's leadership, the Capitol Forum program has tripled in size as 20 Illinois high schools and approximately 150 students and teachers now participate in the event.

White Improves Business Services Secretary White implemented a document management and storage system in the Office's Department of Business Services. The new system has improved customer service in terms of accessibility and response time. White also upgraded and expedited services offered to Limited Liability Companies and Uniform Limited Partnerships, establishing a new program for 24-hour turn-around time on these business filings.

White Makes Archives More Accessible Under Secretary White's leadership, the Archives department has added a number of new databases to its web site, including the Illinois Marriage Index with more than two million names. A total of 36 indexes can now be accessed on the web site. Spurred in large measure by the placement of the Marriage Index on-line, the number of reference requests made on Archives rose from 893,266 in 1998 to almost eight and a half million in 2001, a 900% increase in three years.

White Improves Computer Infrastructure and Processing Speed To improve processing speed and increase memory storage capacity, the office completed a massive conversion of mainframe applications to a new platform. Moreover, the computer infrastructure in Drivers' Service Facilities throughout the state has been upgraded. With faster and more powerful computers at their disposal, Secretary of State employees can more efficiently process drivers' licenses and vehicle registrations.

Second Term: Jan 2004 - Present

White Strengthens Inspector General's Office As part of his continuing efforts to root out corruption and restore integrity in the Secretary of State's Office, Jesse White successfully pushed for a new law to make the position of Inspector General permanent with broader powers to root out corruption. In addition to establishing a code of conduct for employees, and appointing former US Attorney Jim Burn to serve as Inspector General, Secretary White's actions now ensure the office will always have a permanent, qualified Inspector General in place to protect public safety.

White Establishes First Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry Secretary of State Jesse White initiated legislation that established a new First-Person Consent Organ/Tissue Donor Registry that makes a person's decision to donate legally binding. Previously an individual's organs and tissues could not be donated without the consent of the person's next of kin. It is estimated that this new law could save at least 100 additional lives each year. Illinois has the largest Organ and Tissue Donor Registry in the nation with over 6 million registered donors and this law is expected to expand the registry even more.

White Limits Court Supervisions In his ongoing effort to make roads safer, Secretary White spearheaded a new law that limits drivers to two court supervisions for moving violations in a 12-month period. Any other moving violation a driver is found guilty of during that time frame would result in a conviction reported to the individual's permanent driving record. White pushed for the change in law because some dangerous drivers were abusing the court supervision process to avoid losing their driving privileges. White found some drivers that had been granted court supervision more than a dozen times in a single year.

White Increase Penalties For Disability Parking Violations Secretary of State Jesse White initiated legislation that increases penalties for disability parking violations. The new law increases fines up to $500 and allows the Secretary of State to suspend driver's licenses. White has taken a proactive approach to catching violators of the new law by conducting “sting” operations throughout the state.

White Takes Steps to Prevent Identity Theft Secretary White, in an ongoing effort to prevent identity theft for Illinois driver's license and identification holders, has begun using Social Security On-Line Verification (SSOLV) and the Systematic Alien Verification for Entitlements Program (SAVE) for Illinois drivers. Through those program the office is able to verify the identity of drivers before a driver's license or identification card is issued to them.

White Unveils New Under 21 Driver's License In an effort to prevent under age drinking and fraud, Secretary White has unveiled a new driver's license design for people under the age of 21 that will be more difficult to alter. With it's dramatically different vertical layout the new design will be easier to identify and will be harder to manipulate. This new design is just one more step taken by the Secretary of State's Office to stop underage drinking and to help save lives.

White Increases State Capitol Complex Security Secretary of State Jesse White has increased security throughout the State Capitol Complex with a new Department of Capitol Police and electronic screening equipment. The new provisions will provide additional protection for all who visit the State Capitol and work in the building throughout the complex.

White Strengthens CDL Testing In an effort to keep our roadways safe, Secretary White implemented a new policy that requires all commercial drivers in Illinois to take their written exams on automated testing machines that scramble the questions. The new testing machines, which have been installed at 20 regional CDL facilities throughout the state, eliminate the possibility of cheating and ensure that only those who are truly qualified become licensed. This is a continuation of improvements that would make Illinois' CDL program under White one of the best in the nation, according to the US Department of Transportation.

White Provides Dealer Direct Access Under the leadership of Secretary White, a pilot program was initiated to allow licensed automobile dealers to order new license plates and vehicle registrations for new automobile owners at the time of purchase. This project allows new vehicle owners to immediately purchase and display their Illinois license plates at the time they take possession of a vehicle rather than waiting for paperwork to be completed and license plates to be mailed.

White Complies with Hazardous Materials Endorsement Background Checks Secretary White worked to ensure that his office was able to assist the federal government with new security measures at the least inconvenience to Illinois truck drivers and trucking companies. New federal regulations required all state's to fingerprint commercial drivers who haul hazardous materials in order for the Transportation Security Administration to conduct threat assessments.

White Targets New Law At Bribers Jesse White initiated a new law to suspend driving privileges for people who attempt to bribe driving examiners. The new law also extends criminal felony provision for bribes involving driving examiners to include commercial driving schools and trucking companies who provide third party testing.

White Wins Award For Traffic Safety Video Secretary White continues to be an outspoken advocate of traffic safety in the areas of alcohol awareness and deterrence, bicycle and pedestrian safety and school bus safety. During his second term, Secretary White has produced four public service announcements for television, two bicycle safety videos and an alcohol deterrence video for teenagers entitled the Faces of DUI. The Faces of DUI video was the recipient of a Telly Award for outstanding local, regional and cable program as well as an award from the American Association of Motor Vehicles Administrators (AAMVA) Region III.

White Cracks Down on Fake ID's Under the direction of Jesse White, the Secretary of State Police are battling underage drinking through the Cops in Shop Program. Individuals who are caught under this program have their driver's license suspended for one year, in addition to court fines and penalties. From 2001 to 2003, 992 people have been caught presenting false identification statewide.

White Launches CreditSafe Tool for Young People Secretary of State Jesse White launched a new program designed to teach the safe and responsible use of credit cards to young people and adults in Illinois through this website. The online game is an interactive teaching tool that helps students understand credit and how it affects their personal finances.

White Offers Digital Talking Book Program Secretary White announced in 2003 that Illinois would participate in a multi-state pilot project that offers the visually impaired and physically challenged talking books to accommodate their literacy needs. This program provided individuals who have temporary or permanent physical or visual inability a free handheld MP-3 type player loaded with a digital audio book, headphones, an instructions sheet and an evaluations survey. Previously readers with disabilities were given books on cassette. The new digital books allow users to access more modern and convenient technology.

White Automates Driver Education “Blue Slip” Secretary White's office automated the driver education certificate of completion process also know as the “blue slip.” With the elimination of paper certificates, student-drivers may learn of their successful completion of the driver education process within 48 hours instead of weeks.

White Publishes Disability Parking Guide for Medical Professionals In an effort to reduce fraudulent use of parking placards and disability license plates, Secretary of State Jesse White produced a new guide for medical professionals on the provisions of the program so they can ensure patients meet eligibility requirements before they are approved for a placard or disability license plates.


Democrat Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White formally announced today that he would seek re-election in 2006. White made the announcement at campaign rallies in Chicago, Springfield and Herrin.

White was first elected Secretary of State in 1998. In 2002, he was re-elected by winning all 102 counties and garnering more than 2.3 million votes, the largest vote total by any candidate for Illinois statewide office in more than 25 years.

White said that he would again run on his record of accomplishments that included cleaning up corruption, improving public service and making Illinois roads safer.

According to White, the first step he took to clean up corruption was to ban a long-standing practice in the Secretary of State's office of soliciting campaign contributions from employees.

“In 1999, I inherited an office under a cloud of corruption and controversy,” White said. “I didn't want any of my employees concerned about buying or selling tickets or participating in political activities. I only ask that they serve the public to the best of their ability every day. Six years later we have a workforce who can again take pride in their jobs and the state of Illinois is the better for it.”

White also established a strong, independent Inspector General's office to investigate corruption and hired Jim Burns, a former U.S. Attorney, to lead the charge. He gave the Inspector General total independence and all the resources necessary to build a professional staff of investigators.

“We wanted to restore the public's trust in this office and we are succeeding,” White said.

In his first two terms, White has instituted many new laws and programs to make the roads of Illinois safer.

To strengthen a Commercial Driver's License Program that federal investigators claimed allowed unqualified drivers to get licenses illegally, White:

“We have taken a Commercial Driver's License program riddled with fraud and turned it into a model for the rest of the country,” White said. “The U.S. Department of Transportation now calls our CDL program one of best in nation and our roads are safer for it.”

White also removed a loophole that allowed some drivers to collect numerous court supervisions to avoid having their drivers' licenses suspended. Because court supervisions weren't reported to the secretary of state, judges in one county had no way to determine if a driver had been granted court supervision in another county. White created a court supervision database so that judges and prosecutors have a full picture of every driver's record. White further reformed the court supervision system this year by initiating a new law that limits drivers to 2 court supervisions per year.

“We want a driver's record to be an accurate reflection of driving habits,” White said. “Dangerous drivers shouldn't be able to hide numerous infractions from their permanent record to avoid having their license suspended. They endanger the safety of all other motorists.”

White also initiated tough new DUI laws. Repeat DUI offenders and those who continue to drive after their licenses have been suspended or revoked now face stricter minimum penalties that include mandatory jail time. In addition, White increased the penalties for driving drunk with a child in a vehicle and driving at twice the legal limit.

To aid law enforcement officials, White developed a temporary registration permit that allows officers to access valuable vehicle registration they need immediately. The new temporary tags are more difficult to counterfeit and may be checked instantaneously like regular license plates.

“We initiated tough new penalties for DUI offenders and people who drive without a valid license,” White said. “Those new laws combined with a primary safety belt provision I lobbied for helped reduce the number of traffic fatalities last year. We will work hard to continue that trend.”

In addition to cleaning up corruption and improving road safety, White said he was proud to have improved driver and vehicle services throughout the state.

“I inherited lines at driver's facilities that spilled out our doors and down the street,” White said. “The wait time for customers in some areas of the state was absolutely unacceptable. I made it one of my top priorities to ensure that services to motorists throughout Illinois improved.”

White implemented a number of changes to improve service that ranged from common-sense approaches to employing new technology to streamlining internal operations. Those changes include:

“Vehicle titles and registrations are being turned around more quickly than ever before and lines at Driver Services facilities throughout the state are significantly shorter,” White said. “But we are not done yet. We will continue to make more changes in the future to improve service.”

White said a pilot program is currently in place that allows auto dealers to issue license plates and transmit vehicle title and registration information to our office electronically. The success of that program will allow the office to expand more services to other outside locations such as banks and grocery stores throughout the state.

White also noted that successful initiatives to improve service are being expanded, including:

White's long-range plan to address facility operations and reduce wait-times has not been approved by the General Assembly due to the state's fiscal crisis. He said he remains committed to it however and he has begun to implement portions of the plan that could be afforded under the office's current budget.

“I am proud to say today, that we will be opening a new facility in the one of the state's fastest growing regions, Will County,” White said.

Under White, the office has also taken steps to address the problem of the nation's fastest growing crime, identify theft. In recent years, the office began utilizing facial recognition technology and verifying social security numbers online to protect citizens from fraud.

White also touted improvements to other programs his office oversees to help people in need, such as the organ donor program and the disability placard program.

“I have a very personal interest in the Organ and Tissue Donor Program and I'm extremely proud that we have been able to expand the country's largest registry to more than six million participants,” White said. “And beginning next year, a new law will make a person's decision to join our donor registry binding. This change alone could save an additional 100 lives each year.”

White also set new standards for the issue of disability parking by:

“I'm proud of our accomplishments and I look forward to building upon our successes,” White said. “With the continued support of Illinois voters, I'm ready to take on the challenges that await us in the future.”

White says teen fatals a priority Panel to consider tougher laws for younger drivers

By Ted Gregory Tribune staff reporter. Published in the Chicago Tribune on July 3, 2006

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White will push to strengthen the state's teen-driving laws, a response to a Tribune series examining teen-driving fatalities and to research showing the benefits of more restrictive measures on young drivers.

White said he will form a committee in coming weeks to re-examine the state's teen-driving laws. He is particularly interested in expanding night driving restrictions for 16-year-olds and extending the period that a teen driver must possess a learner's permit, he said.

White said the goal is to propose legislation during the veto session in November.

“We've been following the stories, and I'm impressed with the research the Tribune has reported and the direction you're going,” White said. “But we're all in the same game. We're trying to do whatever we can to save our young people.”

White's action comes as a new study, released Monday by Johns Hopkins' Bloomberg School of Public Health, shows that the most comprehensive programs for restricting teen drivers yield about a 21 percent decline in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers.

Although Illinois recently toughened some restrictions on teen drivers, it still falls short of what many states have done.

The new committee will look at ways to enhance Illinois' teen-driving programs, White said, noting that traffic crashes are the No. 1 killer of teens in the United States. A total of 5,610 teenagers were killed in car wrecks in 2004, a level that has remained relatively steady for the last 15 years.

An average of 57 teens die annually in Chicago-area crashes.

“We're going to get the best minds together, and we're going to pick their brains and find out what works best in keeping our young people safe,” White said.

The committee will include state Rep. John D'Amico and state Sen. John Cullerton, Chicago Democrats who sponsored the latest change to the state's Graduated Driver Licensing program, which places limits on new teen drivers. As the drivers gain experience, those restrictions are lifted.

Adopted first in Florida in 1996, graduated licensing plans vary widely across the nation.

After the latest change to Illinois' law, which doubled the number of hours of adult-supervised driving required of teenagers with learner's permits, the state's graduated licensing program received a “good” rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The new law requires 50 hours, including 10 at night. The old requirement was 25 hours.

But experts contended that the 50-hour requirement will yield only marginal benefits.

They also said Illinois' restrictions on night driving for 16-year-olds–now from midnight to 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday–ideally should begin at 9 p.m. And the period teen drivers are required to hold learner's permits should be extended from three to at least six months. White said he supports a 12-month period.

White will draw other members of his committee from law enforcement, driver's education, the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists and Mothers Against Drunk Driving, he said.

White said his effort was motivated in large part by the Tribune's yearlong series, which is examining teen-driving fatalities with an emphasis on measures shown to reduce those deaths. Research into motor vehicle crashes also played a role in his decision to establish the committee, he said.

Research over the last decade strongly suggests that graduated driver licensing is a powerful tool for reducing teen-driving fatalities.

In the Johns Hopkins study, researchers compared data from 1994 to 2004 for states with graduated licensing against those without it. Researchers also examined what parts of the program were most effective.

Typical elements include a six-month waiting period before a driver on a learner's permit can obtain a license, a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving, and night and passenger restrictions.

States with five components for graduated licensing showed an 18 percent reduction in fatal crashes involving 16-year-old drivers, the study concluded. Programs with six or seven components yielded a 21 percent cut, the Hopkins study showed.

Although other studies have examined graduated licensing programs on a national level, the Hopkins effort is the first to examine the comparative effectiveness of specific programs.

“To states searching for solutions to the tragic problem of fatal crashes involving teenagers, [the study] provides extremely valuable new information,” said Nicole Nason, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which sponsored the study.

Virtually every state has some element of graduated licensing. But many have failed to enact strong components in the face of often vehement parental opposition.

“There's always resistance to change,” said Susan Baker, one of the Hopkins study authors, “and some of the states are waiting to see what the evidence is.

“I think now we have that really solid evidence.”

Governor Signs White's Initiative Requiring Increased Training For Teen Drivers

Legislation initiated by Secretary of State Jesse White, State Rep. John D'Amico (D-15) and State Senator John Cullerton (D-6) to strengthen the Illinois Graduated Drivers License (GDL) program by doubling the practice time young drivers will need to obtain an Illinois driver's license was signed into law today by Governor Rod Blagojevich.

“I want to commend Governor Blagojevich and the members of the General Assembly for helping establish this new law that will undoubtedly save the lives of more young drivers,” said White. “Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 15 to 20. I believe this proposal will help give our young people more experience behind the wheel, in a variety of situations, helping them to become better, safer drivers.”

House Bill 4768 requires parents to spend 50 hours with their child in the car, including 10 hours of night driving, before the young person is eligible for an Illinois driver's license. In addition, parents must sign a consent form before the teen may apply for a driver's license. Illinois law previously required parents to spend 25 hours with the teen driver behind the wheel.

“Defensive driving means that even if you're doing everything right, you still have to worry about everyone else on the road. And there's probably no group of drivers on the road that worry the rest of us more than teenage drivers. Driving is about instinct. It's about experience. And when you first start driving, those are two things you just don't have. The bill I'm signing today will help make sure that teenage drivers are better trained and more experienced, and that should make the roads safer for all of us,” said Governor Blagojevich.

The law takes effect immediately and White filed rules today that govern the new program. Any teen that has already been issued a permit will still be required to complete 25 practice hours with a parent before becoming eligible to receive a driver's license. Any teen that has yet to be issued a permit will fall under the new law requiring 50 hours for practice time, including 10 practice hours at night. The new law also requires that the parental consent form be signed in person at a Secretary of State Driver Services facility or signed and notarized if the parent cannot accompany the teen to the driving exam. “This is a common-sense approach to ensure that young people become better trained, more-experienced drivers,” D'Amico said. “It should help reduce the number of crashes that tragically injure and kill too many of our young drivers each year.”

“I'm pleased to have had the opportunity to help Secretary White create another sensible law that will better prepare and protect our young drivers,” said Cullerton. “The additional training required under this law will ultimately make the roads of Illinois safer for all motorists.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA):

The new law was supported by the NHTSA, Illinois Traffic Safety Leaders (ITSL), Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists (AAIM), and the Illinois High School and College Driver Education Association (IHSCDEA).

“We commend Secretary of State Jesse White for strengthening Illinois' GDL law by requiring additional hours behind the wheel including nighttime hours,” said Mike Witter, NHTSA Deputy Regional Administrator. “The new law will better prepare young drivers and improve road safety for all motorists in Illinois.”

Illinois joins 18 other states that require at least 50 hours with a parent in the car, including California, Florida, Michigan and Ohio.

Archive: info gathered from Jesse White's previous races

jesse_white.txt · Last modified: 2010/06/16 13:42 (external edit)
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