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NJ GDL law has reduced teen driver fatalities, P.1

Last year, 33 teens died in motor vehicle crashes, the lowest number and a 42 percent decrease since the Graduated Driver's License (GDL) law went into effect back in 2001.

Last Thursday was the 10th anniversary of New Jersey's GDL law, and Freehold High School held a ceremony to honor 10 individuals-including police, lawmakers, and parents-responsible for bringing that law about. The message at that celebration was a feeling that the GDL has succeeded in improving driver safety among the group of drivers with the highest car accident fatality rate-teens.

New Jersey's GDL law has undergone some change since its inception. The Teen Driving Study Commission issued a report in 2008 which lead to an improvement on the original GDL law by requiring more driving practice time, limiting the number of passengers in a teen driver's vehicle, and implementing curfews for teen drivers.

One of the requirements that came as a result of that report is the famous decal rule, which requires teens to display a decal so that police can identify them.

According to sources, another proposal is still pending based on that report. The proposed bill would require parents and teens to take a GDL orientation course and have increased supervised practice driving. Some school districts already require orientation courses for students before they can have a high school parking permit.

Parents are, apparently, often surprised by what they learn in orientation courses, particularly the changes that have occurred since they learned to drive. Those involved in such courses say educating parents and children together is effective.

In our next post, we'll continue with this topic.

Source:, "Fatal teen driver crashes down 42 percent," Larry Higgs, 19 May 2011.

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