Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Posts Tagged ‘new jersey’

Will New Jersey’s New Teen Driving Law Make a Difference?

Posted by lapearce on March 27, 2010

An example of the New Jersey new driver sticker

New Jersey’s Kyleigh’s Law is no doubt controversial. A lawsuit arguing that the law was unconstitutional was just thrown out, paving the law for the law that would require drivers under the age of 21 to have a decal on their license plate to identify themselves as having provisional licenses. So will this only cause new drivers problem by identifying them without actually leading to saved lives? Will teens just take the stickers off leaving them pointless? Or will they actually make a difference? 

A lot of states have provisional licenses that put certain restrictions on teen drivers that regular drivers don’t have. However, these laws are difficult to enforce. It is difficult for a police officer to look at a driver for a few seconds as they pass by and ascertain if they are young enough to have a provisional license and if they are breaking a provisional law. Because of that, a lot of police just don’t enforce provisional laws unless the driver is breaking another law at the same time. In an article about a recent change to Indiana provisional laws the police said that they see the laws more as a deterrent and hope that people just follow the laws. 

Even though a lot of states see provisional laws as being secondary offenses that they can add onto a ticket after pulling a teen over for braking another law, or just expect teens to voluntarily comply with the laws, believe it or not, these laws do work. Provisional licences actually reduce crashes by 19%. For every teen that ignores the laws, there are a handful more that follow at least some of the laws some of the time, which helps keep deaths down. The fear a lot of teen have about being pulled over and punished by their parents also does have an impact on how teens drive. They don’t want to get caught doing something they aren’t supposed to do  by a police officer, and many don’t want to risk losing their license in the process.

This is why I think that Kyleigh’s Law will make a difference in New Jersey. New Jersey already has some of the nation’s toughest teen driving laws. It is also ranked one of the best states to be a new driver because of its tough stance on new drivers. People who argue that it is unconstitutional by “unfairly” singling out teens are really missing the point here. Driving is a privilege, not a right. And if it is unconstitutional to put a sticker on a teen’s car it should be unconstitutional to restrict any drivers in any way. The one thing I don’t like about this law is that it’s just another example of states looking at legislation instead of education to solve the teen driving problem. If we just taught our new drivers how to drive we wouldn’t need half the laws we have restricting them. But we’ve chosen the legislative route to saving lives and it is just so unfortunate. The roads would be a safer place if all of the proceeds from the sale of these stickers went to in-car drivers training. All fines for all teen driving law infractions should go to this to help stop the problem before it ends in the death of a teen like Kyleigh and a demand for yet another law.

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States ranked for teen driving laws– how did your state do?

Posted by lapearce on January 27, 2010

"Driving with a passanger after curfew I see"

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an alliance of consumer, health and safety groups and insurance companies and agents that strive to make America’s roads safer, just released a new study they conducted on state’s teen driving laws. There are huge disparities in teen driving laws from state to state, some states let teens drive when they are 14, others won’t let you have a license until you are 17. Because of the differences from state to state it wasn’t too much of a shock when some states didn’t fare so well in this third-party review.

Ratings were given based on the number of teen laws in place by each state. It looked at seat belt, text messaging, age for learner’s permit, drunk driving laws among other driving laws.

The leader was the District of Columbia, with 13.5 laws following by New Jersey and Illinois. The worst states were:

South Dakota (only three laws)

Arizona

North Dakota

Wyoming

Virginia

Vermont

Pennsylvania

Ohio

Nebraska, rounding up the bottom of the barrel with 6.5 laws.

However, do more laws mean safer drivers? Allstate America’s Best Drivers Report ranked South Dakota as having the safest drivers in the nation, and Phoenix as having the safest drivers of all cities. Both South Dakota was rated the worst state and Arizona was also given a failing grade by the advocates. An AAA report found also that the safest states are not the ones with the strictest laws. As you may expect, when population density increases so does the risk of a collision. There is just more stuff to hit in a busy city than on a rural town- and speeds can be higher on those big freeways. So maybe these less dense states don’t need as many laws, because the risks are different?

I’ve always felt that we focus too much on enforcement and not enough on education when it comes to teaching our teens how to drive.  When your teen was a toddler, you likely had those plastic covers over the outlet to prevent them from getting electrocuted. Why? Because you knew it was a good way to prevent a potentially life threatening situation. This, is like driver’s education. You are preventing the problem by stopping it with a plug. Laws are if you told your 2 year old not to touch then expected them to listen. They might. But they might not. If you see them go for the outlet you can slap their hand and say no, but what if you aren’t there? What if a police officer isn’t around to see your child driving dangerously? Then the defenses have failed and your child is at risk.

I’m not against strict teen driving laws, I just worry that we focus so much on enforcement that we’ve lost sight of education. Instead of continuing to tell our teens no we should just put a plug in it!

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New Jesery’s next target: GPS

Posted by lapearce on June 21, 2009

 

BMW has a flat dashboard and controls on the passenger side so passengers can operate the GPS while the driver drives

BMW has a flat dashboard and controls on the passenger side so passengers can operate the GPS while the driver drives

New Jersey is a national leader in driving laws right now. They were one of the earlier states to ban cell phone use and text messaging while driving, and the first state to introduce teen driving stickers for new drivers. Now New Jersey Assemblyman Harvey Smith has his aim on legislature’s next target: GPS.

 

The use of GPS in a car is arguably safer than looking down at maps and directions. Play-by-play spoken directions with maps that follow your location are meant to help prevent drivers from being distracted. They probably do, except at one key time:

When you program them.

The process of adding/finding a destination and telling the GPS unit to get you there may only take a minute, but it’s a minute when your eyes are off the road. Newer BMWs have the dash face the center of the car, and not the driver, specifically so the passenger can program the GPS for the driver while he/she drives. Other GPS units, like Honda’s, are voice activated to limit the amount of time you look at them. 

I understand the danger here, but the process takes so little time that I can’t see how it can be enforced. The police will need to have a sharp eye in order to give out the $100 fine for programing a GPS unit while you drive. Ironically, this could be distracting for the police.

This is not yet law, it was just been introduced to the legislature on June 8. It needs to get through both houses and the governor before it becomes illegal to program your GPS while driving. The article linked above asks a very good question: what’s next? Ipods? Looking for gum? Smacking your kids in the backseat?

How about we just get some common sense, figure out this stuff is dangerous and stop doing it? I spoke to a 19 year old girl last night who totalled her last car because she was texting while she drove. I told her how that wasn’t a very good ideas and she told me, “oh, I’ll still do it.”

Paging Darwin to the U.S. roads.

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Four Teen Driving Bills Moving in New Jersey

Posted by lapearce on February 14, 2009

Example of a new driver sticker used in Japan

Example of a new driver sticker used in Japan

Kyleigh’s law is named after Kyleigh Lauren D’Alessio, a 16-year-old honor student and recognized athlete from Long Valley, New Jersey, who died in a car crash involving a young provisional driver with multiple passengers. The bill remarks that 61% of teen passenger deaths occur with drivers who have their provisional license.

If passed, the law would:

· Require that the parent or guardian of a person under the age of 18 receive an informational brochure which clearly sets forth the special rules that apply to a holder of an examination permit or a provisional license.

· Require an orange hang tag/sticker to be displayed when a vehicle is being driven by the holder of a provisional license to 1) assist law enforcement in identifying an infraction; 2) will also help with the peer pressure of driving reckless and/or having more passengers than allowed; 3) with the car marked young drivers will know that they can be easily identified and will refrain from taking the risk)

· Require that an applicant for a provisional license wait one year after obtaining a learner’s permit before being issued a provisional license; (note: the State of New Jersey only requires a 6 hour driver’s training course and 6 months as a permit driver before obtaining a GDL/provisional license; completing one full year with a learner’s permit will provide the driver with more experience prior to obtaining a GDL/provisional license)

· Change the threshold for requiring a remedial training course from more than two motor vehicle points to two or more motor vehicle points.

· Change the threshold for mandatory license suspension from two or more motor vehicle offenses to any motor vehicle offense

· Increase the mandatory license suspension from three months to five months

The other bills currently working towards law would:

· Lower the night-time curfew for teen drivers to 11 pm

· Allow only one driver under the age of 21 in the car

· Change the name from “provisional license” to probationary license

· Require parents and teens to attend graduated drivers license orientation and require six hours behind-the-wheel-practice

· Ban plea bargains for teen drivers in the case of a motor vehicle violation that would result in a point.

· Requiring drivers to take remedial driving instruction if they receive a point.

If passed, these laws will help make New Jersey have some of the strictest laws for new drivers in the nation. I feel that many of these laws are on the right course. They help to bring parents into the process, which is pivitol. It has also been shown that fear of losing their license is great motivation to stop new drivers from breaking the law. Increasing the likelihood of points and suspension could have great success.

However, these laws still don’t address the real problem here: a lack of education. We’ll have to wait and see if having a sticker on the car lowers the probability that a new driver to drive dangerously. All of the other states will be watching New Jersey to see what effects these laws will have, and so will I.

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