The New Jersey Graduated Driver License Program Is Saving Lives

A report about teen drivers issued by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) recommended that other states follow New Jersey’s lead when developing a more comprehensive graduated driver’s license (GDL) program.

The report, titled Mission Not Accomplished: Teen Safe Driving, the Next Chapter, found that fatal crashes caused by teen drivers increased by about ten percent nationwide in 2015. But New Jersey saw a decrease. The GHSA attributes this decline to the state’s strong GDL program.

How is New Jersey’s GDL program different?

While all 50 states have some type of GDL program in place, the New Jersey graduated driver license program requires all new drivers to complete a period of restricted driving, and does not issue full driving privileges to anyone under the age of 18.

Under New Jersey’s rules, any new driver under the age of 21 must hold a learners permit for six months or more, and then hold a probationary license for at least a year. Those who start driving at 21 or later must still follow the same process, but can move to a probationary license after three months instead of six.

Drivers in all levels of the GDL must:

  • Display a license plate decal on any vehicle they are driving
  • Not drive between the hours of 11:01 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless they meet strict exemption requirements
  • Carry only parents, guardians, or dependents as passengers.
  • Carry only one sibling or another additional passenger unless accompanied by a parent
  • Refrain from using cell phones, both hand-held and with hands-free devices
  • Always wear a seat belt

In addition, drivers who hold a learners permit must always have a parent or guardian in the front seat when they drive. This adult must hold a valid New Jersey driver license, and have at least three years of driving experience.

What does the report tell us about the role of GDL programs in reducing crashes?

A three-stage GDL system like those in place in every state can reduce teen’s overall crash risk by up to 30 percent. But most states allow drivers to age out of the GDL program requirements when they turn 18. However, according to the GHSA, about a third of teens do not have a license when they turn 18, meaning they do not have to go through the complete GDL program.

The Governors Highway Safety Association believes the New Jersey program is effective because it goes beyond age 18. They recommend other states expand their GDL programs to cover those in their late teens and early 20s.

How can Cordisco & Saile LLC help after an accident?

If you or your teen suffered injuries in a New Jersey car accident, contact Cordisco & Saile LLC. We can help you navigate the difficult process of seeking compensation if a negligent driver caused the crash. Call us at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free case evaluation.