Ruiz Teen Driver Safety Bill Advances In Committee

Senator M. Theresa Ruiz listens to testimony during the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee hearing.

TRENTON – Senator Teresa Ruiz, D-Essex and Union, and co-prime sponsor, along with Senate President Richard J. Codey, of a measure to impose additional restrictions on drivers with probationary licenses, issued the following statement after the bill was approved by the Senate Transportation Committee today by a vote of 4-0, with 1 abstention:

“We’ve seen far too much tragedy in New Jersey recently in regards to motor vehicle accidents involving young drivers. Before one more family has to go through the loss of a loved one, we need to revisit the laws governing probationary licenses.

“Recognizing the epidemic of problems surrounding probationary drivers, last year the Governor signed a bill directing a panel experts to look at the issues surrounding young, inexperienced drivers.

“What that Commission found was startling – while teen drivers between the ages of 17 and 20 make up only five percent of the population, they are involved in 12 percent of all motor vehicle accidents in the State. While most of those accidents were not fatal, in just one year – 2006 – 48 teen drivers and 19 teen passengers were killed, and motor vehicle accidents are the number one killer of young people around the country.

“New Jersey needs new regulations which address these disturbing trends. The statistics more than make the case for legislative action, but when you consider that they represent bright young people who were cut down before they realized their full potential, this bill becomes all the more important.

“My heart goes out to those families throughout the State who’ve had to endure such a great loss as the death of a young driver in a motor vehicle accident. We need to do a better job preparing our new drivers for the many dangerous situations they may face behind the wheel. By revising New Jersey’s probationary driver statutes, we can hopefully give our teen drivers the experience they need to avoid tragedy.”

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