That's a pretty astounding drop-off, and a great statistic to see touted during National Teen Driver Safety Week.

It turns out that Illinois' graduated driver licensing (GDL) laws are having a very big effect on how our state's teen drivers are doing behind the wheel.

If it's been awhile since you started driving, Illinois' graduated driver licensing laws include three phases. The first phase is the "permit phase" for 15-year olds, followed by the "initial licensing phase" for 16-17 year olds. Then comes the final "full licensing phase" for those 18-20.

The GDL laws took effect in 2008, and Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White pointed out on Tuesday that in 2007, before the GDL requirements, 155 Illinois teens were killed in crashes. In 2018, that number had been reduced to 48. Last year it was 41.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White:

The goal has always been to save lives. While our graduated driver licensing (GDL) program is working as intended with teen driving deaths decreasing, there is still more work to be done. My hope is that with hard work and continued open communication between my office, teens, parents and driver education teachers, teen fatalities will continue to decline.

As a teenager, my parents had their own sort of graduated driver licensing plan. Growing up in Oregon, Illinois, one of their (multiple) rules for me was that I was forbidden from driving in Rockford for the first full year of having my drivers license. After that first year, I was allowed to make the trek up Route 2 to Rockford.

Keep in mind that at the time, my hometown had one set of stoplights. Rockford has considerably more than that. The first time I found myself at State and Alpine on a Friday afternoon at 4:30, my heart rate was hovering around 1200 beats per minute. I sweat so much from my palms that I worried about dehydration, but thanks to mom and dad's rules, I was much less dangerous to those around me than I would have been a year earlier.

Let's hope those numbers keep trending down all the way to zero.