FREEHOLD – New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission Acting Chief Administrator Raymond P. Martinez and Attorney General Paula T. Dow today announced the specifics of Kyleigh’s Law, a first in the nation initiative designed to help prevent senseless teen driver deaths and injuries, which begins May 1.
The new law mandates the display of red, reflectorized decals on the front and rear license plates of any vehicle operated by a permit or probationary license holder under the age 21.
Joined by New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer, who led the Teen Driver Study Commission, which advocated the use of vehicle decals for new drivers, Martinez and Dow highlighted the state’s leadership on the issue of teen driver safety, outlined the requirements of Kyleigh’s Law and stressed the importance of responsibility behind the wheel.
“One of the greatest challenges young people face in their lives is becoming a licensed driver,” said Martinez. “Getting behind the wheel is a tremendous responsibility and it is important for those of us with more experience and knowledge to provide the necessary tools, guidance and support that will allow teens to safely join the millions of drivers traveling our roadways each day.”
Dow noted that the new decal will provide an additional tool for law enforcement officers to use in their continued efforts to enforce the Graduated Driver license (GDL) law.
“The new decal will strengthen police officers’ ability to enforce the Graduated Driver License law requirements,” Dow said. “We know that identifying a GDL holder can often be difficult for those enforcing the law. Stopping a driver for a potential GDL violation should never be based on the fact that a driver appears young, is leaving a school parking lot or is in a vehicle that may be more typical of teens.
“By providing probable cause to stop a teen driver who may be in violation of the GDL requirements, law enforcement officers can not only enhance their enforcement efforts, but ultimately ensure that young drivers are kept safe and free from harm.”
Beginning April 12, all MVC Agencies will sell the decals at $4 dollars per pair. The decals must be attached to the top, left corner of the front and rear license plates prior to the Graduated Driver License (GDL) holder operating the vehicle. The decals are removable so that other family members who share a vehicle with a GDL holder may remove them prior to driving.
The MVC anticipates that approximately 500,000 pairs of decals will be sold during the first year of the new law. While the decals will be issued to a new driver upon receiving a permit, those drivers who are already on the road, but still holding a probationary license under the GDL law, will be required to purchase the decals and display them by May 1.
Named in memory of Kyleigh D’Alessio, a Morris County teenager tragically killed while a passenger in a car driven by a probationary driver, the decals provide state and local law enforcement with a useful tool in identifying those drivers who are violating restrictions imposed under the state’s GDL law.
The statute stems from the work of the Teen Driver Study Commission, which issued, in March 2008, a comprehensive report outlining 47 recommendations for stemming the tide of teen driver crashes in the state. A number of the recommendations were introduced as legislation or are being addressed by the Division of Highway Traffic Safety.
According to Division of Highway Traffic Safety Director Pam Fischer, significant progress has been made in implementing the essential recommendations made by the Teen Driver Study Commission during the past two years, but more work still needs to be done.
“By strengthening the Graduated Driver License law, we are making progress in improving teen driver safety,” Fischer said. “But, while we’re seeing a drop in the total number of teen drivers and their teen passengers killed in traffic crashes, that number is still too high. Until we can say “no teens have lost their lives in a senseless car crash” our work must, and will, continue.”
Motor vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for young people ages 16 to 20. Teens also represent the largest contingent of drivers involved in crashes in New Jersey, although they account for only six percent of licensed drivers.
In New Jersey in 2009, 36 teen drivers and 8 teen passengers were killed in traffic crashes, while in 2008, 36 teen drivers and 23 teen passengers tragically lost their lives in a vehicle. In 2007, 35 teen drivers and 33 teen passengers were killed on New Jersey roads. Nationally, 6,000 teens are killed and approximately 300,000 injured in crashes each year.
In addition to Kyleigh’s Law, several other changes to New Jersey’s GDL law will also take effect on May 1. Permit and probationary (formerly provisional) license holders may not operate a motor vehicle after 11:01 p.m. and before 5:00 a.m. and may not use a hand-held or hands-free interactive, wireless communication device, including iPods.
Passenger restrictions have also been updated for both permit and probationary licensees. Learner’s permit holders may only operate a vehicle with a supervising driver who is over 21 and licensed to drive for at least three years and one additional passenger, unless a parent or guardian is in the vehicle. A probationary license holder (who may drive without supervision) may transport only one passenger unless the passengers are the driver’s dependents. If a parent or guardian is in the vehicle, the passenger restriction does not apply.
Violation of the GDL restrictions, as well as failure to display the decal, will result in a $100 fine.
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