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Study Shows That Teen Driver Decals Save Lives

A New Jersey requirement that placed identifying decals on the license plates of teen drivers is having a big impact on accident statistics.  According to a study released by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), the decal requirement, which is known as Kyleigh’s Law, has reduced the number of teen driving accidents by 1,624 since it went into effect in 2010.

The law requires drivers from ages 16 to 20 years of age to place the decal on their front and rear license plates.  The decals, which cost $4 for a set of two, are made from a highly reflective material, alerting law enforcement to teenage drivers and helping them to enforce restrictions under the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program.

“The number of crashes prevented is equivalent to the number of students attending a large high school,” said Dr. Allison Curry, the medical director at CHOP. “New Jersey youth and other road users are safer as a result of the decals.”

Kyleigh’s Law is named for Kyleigh D’Alessio, a 16-year-old New Jersey teenager who was killed in a car crash in 2006.  The vehicle was driven by a 17-year-old who was violating the GDL restrictions by driving with three passengers in the car. The GDL restricts the number of passengers a teenager can have in the car in an effort to reduce accidents. Studies show that more passengers results in a distraction that increases the likelihood of a crash among teen drivers. Other GDL restrictions include the hours that teens can drive and the use of mobile devices in states where they’re otherwise permitted.

The CHOP study is the first of its kind to identify the effect of the decals on accident rates.  The study also revealed that citations to teen drivers rose by 14% as a result of the decals.

Decal requirements similar to Kayleigh’s Law are being considered in North Carolina, Michigan, Iowa, Minnesota, Alaska and Kentucky. 

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