New Jersey’s Graduated Driver’s License Law Reduces Teen-Driving Dangers

Spring 2011 marked the 10-year anniversary of New Jersey's Graduated Driver's License (GDL) law. Statistics demonstrate the positive impact the law has had on teen-driver safety, but unfortunately, tragic car accidents involving young drivers still happen all too often.

Teen Driver Statistics

Since the New Jersey GDL law took effect in 2001, the annual number of teen fatalities from car crashes is at its lowest point: 33 deaths in 2010, representing a 42 percent decrease in the number of teens killed in motor-vehicle accidents over the past decade. According to one estimate, the number of teen drivers and passengers killed in New Jersey auto accidents dropped by 20 percent just from 2009 to 2010.

Although the reduction is a significant improvement, law-enforcement officials and safety advocates say the number of teens killed in crashes remains too high. In fact, Pam Fischer, leader of the New Jersey Safe Driving Coalition and former director of the state Highway Traffic Safety Division, points out that teens still have the highest crash rate of all age groups.

New Jersey's Graduated Driver's License Law

In response to a 2008 report from the Teen Driving Study Commission, New Jersey strengthened its original GDL law. Amendments included more required practice time and additional limitations on known causes of accidents, such as:

•· Limiting the number of passengers allowed with teen drivers

•· Banning the use of electronic devices while driving

•· Imposing a driving curfew

The Teen Driving Study Commission report also proposed the controversial teen-driver decal law, which requires teens to display a unique decal in their cars to identify them as young drivers with GDLs to police.

Citing statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicating that the chance of a fatal crash increases six times for a teen driver with three teenage passengers in the vehicle, Denville Police Chief Christopher Wagner said the decal program has been a success. The decals led to more than 5,000 summonses for critical violations of New Jersey's GDL law, such as having too many passengers, reported Chief Wagner stated that, "You can't debate the fact that this GDL law and decal have driven down fatalities."

Yet, despite improvements in teen driver safety and the success of the GDL law, accidents involving young drivers and passengers still occur too frequently. If you or a loved one was injured in a car crash involving a teen driver, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss any legal claims you may have.