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Kyleigh’s Law under Strong Debate in North Jersey

Kyleigh D’Alessio, from Long Valley, died in a car accident in 2006 when she was 16. According to the New Jersey Teen Driver Study Commission, New Jersey teens were involved in almost 56,000 motor vehicle accidents that year, leading to 58 deaths.

State legislators used Kyleigh’s death to draw attention to those sobering numbers. They passed Kyleigh’s law, which requires any driver under 21 with a graduated driver’s license to buy a transferable Velcro decal and affix it to any car that he or she drives.

The law is not without controversy, and Bergen County politicians and police officers are weighing in, particularly in light of a recent state Senate bill that seeks its repeal.

The pros and cons are being liberally debated. The Mahwah and Midland Park city councils have passed resolutions seeking to rescind the legislation. Mahwah’s council president, John DaPuzzo, says that the law is “singling out young drivers;” Midland Park Councilman Nicholas Papapietro states that it “could create unintended consequences” (police harassment and predators targeting teens by looking for the stickers have been mentioned).

Others disagree. Ramsey Mayor Christopher Botta is one of them. He says that the law is simply about enforcement, based on common knowledge “that young drivers are more prone to be distracted drivers.” Waldwick Police Chief Mark Messner concurs with that assessment, adding that, “We’re not out to give the kids a hard time; we’re there to make sure they don’t get hurt.”

The Senate bill, introduced by Sen. Tom Goodwin of Middlesex, is currently before the state’s Senate Transportation Committee and has not yet come up for a vote.

Related Resource: www.northjersey.com “Kyleigh’s Law decals drive controversy” July 29, 2010

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