A year later, N.J. law on teen driver decals still debated

    The year-old law requiring young drivers in New Jersey to display a red decal on their license plates is getting mixed reviews.

    Since Kyleigh’s Law took effect last May, police have issued about

    1,800 summonses to teens without decals on their cars. Police gave more than four times as many summonses to young drivers for exceeding their graduated driver’s license limits on the hours they can drive and the number of their passengers.

    Anthony Parenti, director of the New Jersey Traffic Safety Officers Association, said the decals are not needed to give police probable cause to stop teens with those provisional licenses.

    “Police officers tend to look at the age of the driver,” said Parenti. “If any police officer sees a car with too many kids in it, that gives them probable cause to stop, decals or no decals.”

    State highway traffic safety officials, however, say awareness of Kyleigh’s Law may be helping to reduce the number of fatal accidents involving teens.

    “We feel that it has had somewhat of an effect,” said Gary Poedubicky, Highway Traffic Safety director. “In 2010 there were 19 teen drivers and 14 teen passengers killed in motor vehicle crashes and that’s about a 20 percent reduction over the previous year.”

    A study on the overall effectiveness of the graduated driver’s license law should be finished next year.

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