TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senator Ellen Karcher which would establish the Teenage Driver Safety Study Commission to make recommendations to improve teen driver safety was unanimously approved by the Senate today, receiving final legislative approval.
“Recently, a tragic and fatal accident involving Freehold teenagers has underscored the need to examine the safety issues that affect teen drivers across the board,” said Senator Karcher, D-Monmouth and Mercer. “As a mother of a teen driver, my heart goes out to the family of the teens killed in Freehold, as well as the family-members and friends of everyone who died in the accident. We must do everything in our power, so that fatal crashes like the one in Freehold are far less frequent.”
The bill, S-1962, would create the 15-member Teenage Driver Safety Study Commission to review specific dangers for younger drivers. The Commission would be directed to review the availability and effectiveness of driving education and training programs, assess the problems of drunk-driving and aggressive driving in younger drivers, evaluate the effectiveness of defensive driving and accident-prevention programs, and analyze the type of motor vehicle violations that are contributing factors to teenage driving accidents. The Commission would also look closely at the effectiveness of New Jersey’s teenage graduated drivers’ license program, which was implemented in 2002.
“I hope that the Commission will leave no stone unturned in its review of the hazards and safety programs which come into play for teen drivers,” said Senator Karcher. “The Commission will include experts from the automotive, insurance, and public safety sectors, and will make necessary safety recommendations for policymakers to implement. With the expertise of the Commission and the full cooperation of the Legislature, we can make a difference in roadway safety for our youngest drivers.”
Senator Karcher noted that parents should also play a part in their kids’ safe driving, adding that when her son was of driving age, she purposefully held him back from getting his license, so that he might be better prepared when he started driving.
“I think if parents play a bigger role in recognizing whether their kids are ready for the responsibilities of a driver’s license, we will be able to have an impact,” said Senator Karcher. “I think there is an immense pressure on parents to grant their kids’ independence, through a driver’s license, without them being ready for the added responsibilities of the road. Sometimes, we have to be the bad guys in order to protect our kids’ safety.”
Senator Karcher also added that she will offer to serve on the Commission, to act as a liaison in order to quickly implement important safety recommendations in the Legislature.
The bill was approved in the Assembly in June, and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law.