Senate President Foresees Future Declines as New Laws Go Into Effect
TRENTON — Senate President Richard J. Codey (D-Essex) today welcomed the news that the number of teens killed in New Jersey by automobile accidents has declined for the third straight year. While finding the news encouraging, Sen. Codey also urged the need for increased vigilance and education and expressed optimism that a new set of laws enacted in the Spring will help contribute to future declines.
“This news is particularly comforting given the fact that we live in the most densely populated state in an era of constant distractions,” said Sen. Codey. “As a parent, I know how hard it is to go to sleep at night, knowing your teen is out there on the road. In every parent’s eyes, one death is one too many. The only way we can help avoid these tragedies is to make sure that inexperienced drivers have greater supervision and less distractions while they’re still learning the ropes. We’ve made great strides to achieve this and I’m hopeful that the new laws we passed this year will further contribute to this decline in the future.”
Sen. Codey was the prime sponsor of a bill signed into law in April that will provide greater protections for teen drivers by tightening restrictions on the number of people permitted with them in the car and cutting back on the hours that they can be on the road. The law (bill S16) was based on recommendations from New Jersey’s Teen Driver Study Commission, which has been cited as a factor in the recent reduction of fatalities.
Under Sen. Codey’s law, the new provisions will go into effect in May 2010, 13 months after the law’s enactment, in order to allow enough time for sufficient education.
The new law will tighten provisions of the current Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program, which went into effect in 2001 giving New Jersey the oldest minimum driving age in the nation. The previous law has been effective in decreasing the number of accidents involving 17 to 20 year olds. But the number of teen drivers and passengers involved in accidents still remains disproportionately high.
Presently, anyone with an examination permit or a provisional driver’s license is prohibited from operating a vehicle between the hours of 12 Midnight and 5 am. Under Sen. Codey’s new law, the blackout hours will be extended from 11 pm to 5 am for any driver with an examination permit or provisional license.
Additionally, drivers in the Graduated Drivers License program will only be allowed to transport dependents and a parent or guardian. In order to transport anyone else, they will have to be accompanied by a parent or guardian. However, in the case of probationary license holders, they will be allowed to transport one person on their own, any more would require a parent or guardian to be in the car.
The law also requires the Division of Highway Traffic Safety to undertake a public awareness campaign about the new provisions.
“Hopefully teens will understand that we do these things not to rain on their parade, but to ensure that they live to experience life to the fullest. We’ve witnessed far too many high-profile automobile tragedies involving teens in recent years. But what we don’t see is the personal pain that each and every family member goes through when their child is taken from them too soon. It’s a tragedy no one should have to endure and we need to do all we can to prevent it. These new laws are an encouraging start,” added Sen. Codey.
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