EAST PEORIA - Central Illinois is no stranger to teen driving fatalities.
So when national news spreads about 15 teen driving deaths since Sunday, many locally question what else must happen for more teens to get the message.
Hailey Dudley, 18, of Tremont, says reading about teen driving fatalities hits close to home.
"All throughout my life I've been greatly affected by teen driving accidents," she said.
In her young life, multiple accidents stick out. Those include an accident in January 2011 that killed two Tazewell county teenagers and another tragic wreck in February 2013 that killed one of Dudley's classmates.
In all, she's known four teens to die from vehicle accidents.
The recent deaths of teenagers in Ohio, Texas, and Illinois are putting teen drivers in the spotlight.
Tuesday morning, four young people were found dead after their car skidded off a bridge and plunged into an icy creek in Will County.
The bodies of two boys and two girls, between the ages of 15 and 17, were pulled from Forked Creek near the city of Wilmington Tuesday. Wilmington is about 50 miles southwest of Chicago.
It's unclear when the accident happened. Officials say the teens had been missing since Monday evening. It seems the driver hit a patch of water or ice, lost control and crashed into the water.
Meanwhile in west Texas, five more teens were killed in an accident that happened Sunday, just north of Amarillo. Police say the driver of the car packed with kids blew a stop sign. A tanker then smashed into the side of the car, igniting a fire that engulfed both vehicles.
The Ohio state highway patrol is releasing more details about the Sunday morning crash that killed six teens and injured two others. The teenage girl, who was driving a stolen SUV before it crashed into a guardrail and flipped upside-down into a pond, did not have a valid driver's license.
Troopers found no defects on the vehicle that would have caused it to lose control, and they determined that none of the eight teens were wearing seat belts.
News of the tragedies struck a chord with some in central Illinois, including teenagers like Dudley. Now, she wants to know what it will take to keep young people from dying behind the wheel.
"It's just so frustrating that we've gone through so many tragedies related to teen driving and my classmates still just think it's not going to happen to us," she said.
Dudley thinks her peers need to pay attention. Tuesday, she joined countless other teens for a workshop at Illinois Central College in East Peoria to teach young people the dangers of distracted driving. One workshop incorporated a computer generated driving simulator that lets teenagers witness what could happen in a real situation.
"They don't necessarily think out the consequences or potential consequences before they take them," said Nick Jarmusz, AAA Chicago representative. "So when you combine that with the inexperience, it really becomes a fatal combination on the roads unfortunately."
Jarmusz says driving inexperience is a major factor for teen driving fatalities. According to AAA research, it takes up to five years before the average driver feels comfortable behind the wheel.
State trooper Dustin Pierce says locals know vehicle tragedy too well.
Of 29 people killed in vehicle accidents last year, three were teenagers. But he says the state is much improved.
"In 2007, there were 115 teenagers killed in crashes in Illinois. In the years since then, they've continued to drop. However, still one is too many," said Pierce.
So what's the problem? How can it stop? Hailey thinks teens have to hold each other accountable.
She hopes these recent tragedies are a wake-up call that will keep teens alert at the wheel.
"I think it's so easy to forget about because, yes, it happened. But what's to say that it will happen again to us? We went through it once so why would it happen a second time? That's what's scary is that we forget the lesson."
Parents can play a large role in teen driving safety, according to Pierce. He urges parents to be involved by asking teens questions about their driving and passengers. Authorities advise parents talk to their kids about driving safety. Jarmusz recommends parents write-up a driving safety contract and have the child sign it. Also, parents can cancel a teen's driver's license at anytime. All it takes is a letter to the secretary of state office.