N.J. considers plan to expand requirements for teen drivers

A New Jersey Assembly committee has advanced legislation aimed at making teens better drivers.

The measure would require a parent of a young driver who’s applying for a learner’s permit to complete an approved teen driver orientation program.

Long Valley resident Donna Weeks, whose daughter died when a car driven by a teenager crashed in 2006, said that’s the most crucial part of the bill.

“Our children are irreplaceable,” Weeks said. “If we could share extremely important information for parents and teens to help them make better choices, believe me, every second is worth it.”

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The legislation also requires teens with a learner’s permit to complete 50 hours of supervised practice driving. The permit phase for new drivers would be extended to a full year instead of the current six months.

That is essential, according to Pam Fischer of the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition.

“This is the foundational piece for teen driving. They’re out there. They’re being supervised. They’re practicing. They’re really focusing on learning skill so that they will become good drivers for life,” she said. “We know the research shows us that it takes about a thousand miles of driving before the crash risk really, really drops.”

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