During National Teen Driver Safety Week, AAA Clubs of New Jersey, along with more than 20 like-minded traffic safety advocate, education, health and insurance organizations, is calling on the State Legislature to pass S2789/A3793, sponsored by Senator Nilsa Cruz-Perez and Assembly Transportation Chairman Daniel Benson. This legislation will strengthen New Jersey’s Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) program to require new permit holders under the age of 21 to complete 50 supervised hours of driving practice.
New Jersey is one of only three states – along with Arkansas and Mississippi – that do not require teen practice hours, even though consistent training during the learning period has shown a reduction in crashes during the first year of driving. In addition, the federal government strongly encourages this vital practice. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends parental certification of practice hours as part of their recommended GDL provisions.
“Traffic crashes and fatalities are rising at an alarming rate in New Jersey. Requiring new young drivers to log 50 practice hours will not only provide these drivers with the vital experience they need to drive safely and confidently but will result in a reduction of injuries and fatalities on our roads,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Teens need time and practice to develop safe driving skills. It’s time for the New Jersey Legislature to join 47 other states in passing practice hours legislation for young drivers.”
According to the most recent New Jersey Department of Transportation crash data, over 28,000 teen drivers (16-20) were involved in crashes in New Jersey in 2020, including over 7,000 involved in injury or fatal crashes. This means that every 19 minutes, a driver under 21 is involved in a crash in New Jersey. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that if New Jersey were to require 50 practice hours for young drivers, collision claims could be reduced by 13%, and more importantly, fatal crashes could be reduced by 3%. NHTSA estimates that New Jersey has seen a 20% increase in traffic fatalities in the first half of 2022 compared to the first half of 2021. Including a driving practice provision under New Jersey’s GDL can help bring these statistics down.
“We are glad to join with our partners to support this vital legislation to improve training for novice teen and young adult drivers. The well-known adage of ‘practice makes perfect’ should serve as guidance to the New Jersey legislature to advance S2789/A3793 to make the roads safer for new drivers and everyone sharing the road with them,” said Cathy Chase, President, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety. “New Jersey has one of the most advanced GDL programs, yet it also has a gaping hole with the lack of a supervised driving requirement, contrary to most states. With young driver crash fatalities on the rise, it is urgent that the New Jersey Legislature enacts the bills this session.”
Members of Partners for Practice Hours include: AAA Clubs of New Jersey; Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety; Allstate New Jersey Insurance Company; Amica Mutual Insurance Company; Brain Injury Alliance of NJ; Consumer Federation of America; Emergency Nurses Association New Jersey State Council; Families for Safe Streets NJ; Insurance Council of NJ; Kids and Car Safety; Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) New Jersey; Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company; National Safety Council; Nikhil Badlani Foundation; NJ Driver Education Committee; NJM Insurance Group; NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition; Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD); Safe Kids Worldwide; Selective Insurance Company of America; Society of Health and Physical Educators of NJ; Society for Advancement of Violence and Injury Research; State Farm Insurance Companies; The Center for Auto Safety; and Vision Zero Alliance of NJ.