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Kyleigh’s Law

Young drivers or inexperienced operators unfortunately are involved in a higher percentage of accidents then more experienced drivers. It is just nature that it takes time to fully learn something and be good at it, be it golf or driving a car. It appears the phenomenon of inexperienced driving however is more a problem with inexperienced young drivers, as opposed to someone who gets their license later in life. During their first six months of driving inexperienced drivers are eight times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident then experienced drivers, per the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. Insurance rates are adjusted significantly higher for inexperienced drivers, due to such statistics. More importantly however states are enacting laws to curb the hazard of inexperienced operators.

New Jersey is one such state to enact laws to make the roads safer with regards to inexperienced drivers. The law is known as Kyleigh’s Law. Kyleigh D’Alessio was killed in a crash whereas another teen was driving, a 17 year old, who was violating the then law of driving with three other passengers. The new law, formerly known as S2314, requires any driver under 21, who holds a permit or a probationary driver’s license to buy a pair of decals and display them on the top left corner of the front and rear license plates. The intent of the decals is for police to identify younger law breaking drivers more easily, since number of passengers in the vehicle being a restriction for young drivers.

There are some distinct changes between the prior inexperienced operator rules and the ones enacted with Kyleigh’s Law. Distinctions between the hours the operator can drive have been amended, as well as the number and age of passengers. The cell phone usage rules remain relatively unchanged, with a slight change in wording to ban hands free as well as handheld devices except in the case of an emergency. Of course the notable change is the required deals on the plates. Finally, a $100 fine is levied for non-compliance.

There has been some disapproval and legal challenges against the law, especially with regards to displaying decals.  Rights groups fear criminals especially sexual predators may target vehicles that have the decals, realizing the driver is a teen or younger driver. The matter was taken to the New Jersey Supreme Court, but the law was upheld. A brief summary of the court’s ruling states, “The young drivers subject to have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their age group because a driver’s age group can generally be determined by his or her physical appearance, which is routinely exposed to public view.” Although it seems like a reasonable enactment, New Jersey residents do not seem to be adapting to the rules. The law has also been met with non-compliance, with underage drivers in large numbers not attaching the decals. Other groups are telling all drivers to attach the decals making them irrelevant. Perhaps in the future the rule will become commonplace and all inexperienced operators will comply.    

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