I'm not generally a nervous person. I wouldn't go so far as to call myself unflappable (there have been moments in my life when I've been highly flappable, to be honest), but I'm lucky enough not to suffer with much anxiety...although when my 16 year old got his driver's license, I was definitely biting my nails and cutting back on caffeine.

With more teens obtaining driver’s licenses during the summer than any other season and an average of 220 auto-related teen deaths occurring every month during the same period, what parent wouldn't be nervous? Add to that all the distractions that drivers today face (that we just didn't "back in the day"), and you've made handing your kid the keys to the car even more nerve-wracking.

If you're the parent of a teen driver, or one who will be a teen driver sooner than you'd like, you can take heart in knowing that Illinois is actually the 3rd best state in the country for teen drivers.

WalletHub took a look at some of the numbers involving teen motorists, and some of their facts are definitely attention-getters:

  • Motor-vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause of death among people between the ages of 16 and 19, which also happens to be the age group with the highest risk of crashes.
  • Although 15- to 24-year-olds make up only 14 percent of the population, they rack up nearly a third of all costs resulting from motor vehicle injuries. That’s not even counting the costs of auto maintenance, insurance premiums, possible traffic citations and other vehicular incidents — expenses that can pile up over time.

Nothing I could write here will alleviate parental anxiety about teen driving, but maybe knowing that Illinois is a better place to have a teen driver than 47 other states can help tamp down the nerves a bit.

WalletHub's numbers for Illinois:

Teen Driving Conditions in Illinois (1=Best; 25=Avg.):

  • 11th – Number of Teen Driver Fatalities per Teen Population
  • 2nd – Number of Teen DUIs per Teen Population
  • 9th – Average Cost of Car Repairs
  • 1st – Presence of Distracted-Driving/Texting-While-Driving Laws
  • 1st – Presence of Teen Driver’s Graduated Licensing Program Laws
  • 6th – Number of Vehicle Miles Traveled per Capita
  • 5th – Provision of Occupant- Protection Laws
  • 1st – Presence of Impaired-Driving Laws

Only New York and Oregon have better conditions than we do here in Illinois. For WalletHub's complete report on teen driving in the U.S., click here.

You also might wish to take a page from my dad's parenting book. When I got my first car, my dad made me sign an agreement regarding my behavior with the car. There were the usual things, no drinking, no drugs, no more than one friend in the car at a time, and a provision that said I couldn't drive in Rockford until I had one year of driving under my belt. I grew up in Oregon, Illinois, and at that time, there was only one stoplight. He figured I needed to work up to, and practice for, driving in the "big city." The toughest thing he put in our "driving contract" was: if I got a speeding ticket, my car would remain parked in the driveway for 60 days, and I was on foot. If I was dumb enough to get a second speeding ticket, my car would be sold, and the profits from the sale would be forfeited to my parents.

My dad didn't play around.

I did get a ticket, though. It wasn't until I was 26 years old, but I still didn't mention it to my dad until I was in my 40s.