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Graduated licensing decals have New Jerseys teens seeing red

Drivers these days are looking younger and younger, and while some are easily picked out as a teen subject to graduated driver licensing laws, it isn’t always clear. Graduated licensing laws are ones that were enacted in response to the disparate numbers of teens who were involved in serious car accidents — most often the collisions caused by the teen driver.

New Jersey is no different from other states in that teens are under graduated licensing restrictions as well, but the state differs from others in one way. Teens in New Jersey are required to display a red sticker on their license plate denoting their graduated status for law enforcement officers to aid in enforcement of the laws.

These red decals have caused a significant amount of controversy as any restrictive regulation often does, but the data shows that regardless of opinion the decals might be working. Since the implementation of the stickers, there has been a 9 percent reduction in the amount of collisions involving teens in the state.

This reduction may certainly be related to the 14 percent increase in the number of graduated licensing law citations that were handed out by traffic enforcement officers. A car seen with a red sticker after 11 p.m. is a fairly clear indication for officers that a violation may exist. An officer can pull the vehicle over and cite an offending teen driver or let an adult continue on their way. Other restrictions include ones related to cellphones and even the number of passengers in the vehicle.

Officers believe that the ability to more stringently enforce the laws helps deter violators and prevent a number of possible collisions. “Without the decal, police really don’t have a way to determine which teen drivers are subject to these restrictions,” said an epidemiologist who took part in the study.

Source: New Works, “Study: ‘Red decal’ for young N.J. drivers has lowered accident rates,” Zack Seward, Oct. 24, 2012

While these little decals may help reduce accidents, there are a lot of inexperienced drivers that remain a risk on the roads. Our New Jersey Auto Accidents page provides information to those who have been injured or their loved ones who want to help.

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