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Red decals for young drivers in New Jersey lowers teen accident rates

The graduated licensing decals for young drivers in New Jersey have created controversy; however they seem to be working. According to a recent study, the decals have prevented more than 1,600 crashes amongst teenage drivers. Now licensing agencies nationwide are looking at the program to determine if it could prevent accidents in other states. It may not be long before New York teens are given the same identification and scrutiny on the roads to prevent accidents caused by inexperienced and distracted driving.

Researchers reviewed numbers from the first year that probationary drivers were required to display red stickers on their license plates. According to findings, crashes among young drivers fell 9 percent. Police citations on restricted vehicles increased 14 percent.

The decals made it easier to enforce restrictions under graduated licensing law. Under these regulations:

  • Teens are prohibited from driving after 11
  • Teens cannot drive with more than 1 passenger
  • Teens are prohibited from using electronic devices

While most states have similar licensing laws for teens, New Jersey is the first to require an identifying marker for probationary drivers. Without the decal, police don't have a clear way to determine which drivers are subject to restrictions. The decals may also increase compliance with restrictions and make teens less likely to participate in risky driving behaviors. The decals make teen drivers and other motorists on the road safer by preventing serious accident and injury that can be caused by distracted driving.

Safety advocates believe that the crash reduction statistics are significant. There have been attempts to repeal the law because it makes teens vulnerable to predators, kidnappers and other offenders, according to one legislator. Still, the red decals seem to be making the roads safer by preventing accidents caused by inexperienced and distracted teen drivers.

Source: NewsWorks, "Study: 'Red decal' for young N.J. drivers has lowered accident rates," Oct. 24, 2012

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