License Plate Decals May Limit Teen Driver Car Accidents

In 2009, New Jersey’s then-governor, Jon Corzine, approved Kyleigh’s Law, requiring teen drivers to display small red decals on their license plates identifying themselves as new, inexperienced drivers. The law was named after a New Jersey teenager who was killed in a fatal motor vehicle accident with a teen driver who was violating the state’s provisional driver’s license restrictions.

A study of the law’s effectiveness at curbing teen driver crashes by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recently revealed surprising results: the decals are working.

According to CHOP researchers, 1,600 motor vehicle accidents were avoided in the first year of the sticker requirement. Overall, crashes involving teen drivers have fallen by nine percent in New Jersey while the number of teen drivers cited by police for violating the terms of their provisional driver’s license has risen by 14 percent.

License Plate Decals Alert Other Drivers And Police To Teen Motorists

In New Jersey, teens are issued a provisional license. A teen driver cannot be on the road after 11 pm nor can he or she have more than one other teen passenger in the car. The provisional license also has restrictions against distracted driving, including prohibitions against using a cell phone while behind the wheel.

According to Allison Curry, an epidemiologist from CHOP involved in the study, the decals give law enforcement a way to distinguish teen drivers from others on the road, allowing for better enforcement of provisional license restrictions. The decals may also make teen drivers less likely to take risks behind the wheel, according to Curry.

Graduated Licenses For Teen Drivers In Pennsylvania

While Pennsylvania has a similar graduated licensing program, it does not currently have a similar license plate designator for teen drivers. Earning unrestricted driving privileges in Pennsylvania begins at age 15 with the learner’s permit. After a teen has practiced for six months and at least 50 hours with another adult driver over age 21, he or she can apply for a provisional license.

A Pennsylvania provisional driver’s license restricts a teen driver from:

  • Driving between 11 pm and 5 am
  • Transporting more passengers than the number of available seatbelts in the car
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol

These restrictions can be lifted when the teen driver reaches 18 years of age or if the teen driver does not get into a car crash or receive a citation during the 12 months after receiving a provisional license and completes a driver’s education course.

Despite Success, Decals Remain Controversial

New Jersey Assemblyman John Wisniewski believes that the decal law has been an overwhelming success based on the numbers of crashes the CHOP study claims it has prevented. But, “One life saved would have made this law worthwhile,” noted Wisniewski.

Opponents of the law continue to push for its repeal however, despite the success noted by the reduction in teen driver accidents in the CHOP study. The red decals unfairly identify teen drivers, making them a target for police as well as predators.

Similar legislation has not yet been proposed in Pennsylvania.

If you were injured by a teen driver or were otherwise involved in a motor vehicle accident, a personal injury attorney in your area can discuss your right to compensation from the at-fault driver, his or her insurance company and your insurance company, as applicable.

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