Jersey Drivers Say Teens Should Practice More

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STATE — New Jersey drivers favor some additional requirements for new drivers. According to a study by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind, co-sponsored by the state’s Division of Highway Traffic Safety, five of six Garden State drivers (83%) support requiring teenagers to log 50 practice hours with an experienced driver before getting a license.

In addition, nearly four of five New Jersey drivers (78%) support requiring a parent-teen orientation for new teenage drivers and their parents.  The orientation, one of the 14 “essential recommendations” made by the Teen Driver Study Commission in its report issued in March 2008, would ensure parents fully understand the graduated driver license law, as well as the important role they play in ensuring their children’s safety behind the wheel the Commission says.

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A more controversial proposal is increasing the length of time after receiving a permit, but before becoming eligible for a license, from six months to a full year. On this question, New Jerseyans split, with 49% in favor and 44% opposed.  A majority of drivers under 30 years of age oppose the idea (56-41) though drivers over 30 tend to support it by margins of five-to-four.  The proposal was also one of the 14 essential recommendations made by the Commission, which stated in its report that more than 1,000 hours of driving are needed before a teen’s crash risk drops significantly.

According to the most recent crash data analysis by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety, last year in New Jersey young drivers (ages 16-20) involved in crashes fell 22 percent, while fatalities continued to decline from 72 in 2006 to 44 last year (a 38% decrease). Teen drivers, however, continue to have the highest crash risk of any age group on the road, and motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for this age group. Safety agency reviews of crash data show that driver inattention and distractions caused by other passengers, cell phones and inexperience, followed by speed and failure to yield, are the most prevalent contributing factors in young driver crashes.

The Fairleigh Dickinson University survey was co-sponsored by the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and carried out by telephone from May 2 through June 2 using a randomly selected sample of 953 New Jersey residents aged 17 and over who report they drive regularly, including an oversample of drivers under the age of 30. It has a margin of error of +/-3 percentage points.


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