Teen drivers in New Jersey are already identified by law enforcement and other officials needing to see their license: the graphics are lengthwise for provisional license holders while regular drivers receive theirs with a horizontal orientation. Now the same may be possible for fellow drivers on the road thanks to new decals for young motorists just out of online drivers ed
The development comes with the passage of Kyleigh's law that will take effect on May 1. Participants in the graduated driver license program will be required to place new decals on their front and rear license plates to let police and fellow drivers know that they are still new to using their cars. A pair will cost $4.
Law enforcement say that the new decals will help them in monitoring teen-specific laws in New Jersey, specifically those that restrict cell phone usage and the number of passengers that are allowed in the vehicle at any one time. In addition, like the programs in other states, younger drivers also have a curfew in place that gave the program its "Cinderella" moniker.
Teens may believe that the new red stickers in the corners of license plates will leave them open to profiling by New Jersey law enforcement agencies, a charge that other groups have levelled at the police in the state before. Unfortunately, while racial profiling has no basis in traffic law, the age of drivers is directly linked to their propensity for committing speeding or reckless driving offenses.
Appeals have also proved fruitless in state courts, as judges have ruled that the new legislation is not unconstitutional and will not prove prejudicial against younger drivers. If teens in New Jersey are looking for sympathy, they also won't find it in Europe, where the decals can run the entire length of a rear windshield.
Lawmakers are hopeful that the new decals will give teens an added incentive to follow the rules that, anecdotally speaking, are not strictly followed. The law's namesake, Kyleigh D'Alessio, was just one New Jerseyan who lost her life because of a distracted teen driver. Her mother had led the charge to make the decals a required feature for all drivers under age 21.
The decals are available now, and enforcement actions will begin May 1. While some parents have stated that they will contest the law again in courts, for now it should represent a red flag for teen drivers considering flouting some of the regulations that makes New Jersey one of the safest states in the U.S. for teen drivers.
In fact, there is one other factor that could lead to a drastic increase in citations issued by law enforcement. New Jersey residents commonly go down "the shore" each summer to beach resorts, where many teens first take their cars for the warmer months. The combination of the red decals and the use of secondary police forces by nearly every beachside town could prove to be a ticketing bonanza against youngsters who fail to mind the laws, leading to online permit and online driver license training courses
sign-ups in the fall.