Legislators Must Finish GDL Work
Letter to the editor
The court has ruled that Kyleigh’s law is constitutional. The law was part of a package of teen driver bills that were designed to strengthen the Graduated Driver License (GDL) program. Since the implementation of the “decal law,” the rest of the package has been on pause while the court decided, with the verdict in, it’s time for the Legislature to begin work on the two provisions left that have been proven to keep teens safe behind the wheel.
A-1571/S-674 would require 50 supervised driving hours over the course of a one-year permit phase. This equates to less than an hour of week of driving time with mom, dad or any other supervising driver. Practice is the only way to master driving skills and to create safe driving habits. Implementing these requirements, as 46 other states have, will give teens the time they need to develop those skills.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s GDL calculator, which provides estimates of the safety impact of changing a state’s GDL provisions, indicates that making this change in NJ would reduce collision claims by 13 percent, and most importantly fatalities would be reduced by 3 percent.
The bill would also require teens to participate in an orientation program with their parents, either in-person or online. This program would not only give teens and their parents information about the laws and provisions of the GDL, but would offer helpful advice and best practices for this important learning phase. In Connecticut, one of the first states to implement this program, a report found that parents overwhelming (83 percent ) approved of the program and many (85 percent) found the program to be useful to them in teaching their teens to drive.
A-1571 recently passed the Assembly and AAA urges the Senate to pass S-674 so we can put these proven provisions into effect and keep our roadways safe. In the meantime, parents and teens can visit teendriving.aaa.com to learn more about how to keep your teen driver safe on the roads.
Frederick L. Gruel
The writer is president and CEO of the AAA New Jersey Automobile Club.