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.
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.
Cars in Schools' Driver Education Programs Face Stricter Safety Requirements (Chicago Tribune)
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