What is Kyleigh’s Law? Does it prevent teen accidents?

 According to an article published in The Record, there are more than 170,000 drivers under age 21 on New Jersey roads. This number makes up only about three percent of drivers in the state, yet they play a role in more than 10 percent of car accidents.

In order to address this issue, New Jersey instituted one of the toughest graduated driver’s license programs in the nation in May 2010. The purpose of this legislation and the related Kyleigh’s Law is to reduce the number of car accidents caused by teens and to enhance the safety of both teens and others on New Jersey’s roadways, including Route 1, I-95, and I-295, Route 206, and Route 130 throughout Burlington and Mercer Counties.

What is Kyleigh’s Law?

Kyleigh’s Law went into effect in New Jersey on May 1, 2010. Lawmakers named this law for Kyleigh D’Alessio, a New Jersey teen killed in a 2006 car crash. Kyleigh was riding in the car with three other teens when they struck a tree.

Kyleigh’s law requires all permit and probationary drivers under age 21 to display a pair of red decals on their vehicles. The purpose of the decal is to help police easily identify these drivers and more effectively enforce licensing restrictions. This, in theory, keeps teens – and the rest of us – safer on New Jersey’s roadways.

Teens pay $4 for a set of decals, and a ticket for not having the decal could cost up to $100. The decals are easily removed when other drivers are using the vehicle, and replaced before the teen gets behind the wheel.

In addition to the decals, Kyleigh’s Law also requires probationary drivers in New Jersey to:

  • Carry no more than one passenger, unless an adult family member is in the car
  • Avoid driving between 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
  • Refrain from using any electronic device while driving, including hands-free devices

Why is this law controversial?

From the beginning, Kyleigh’s Law was controversial. Parents and teens signed petitions and held demonstrations, and one attorney even attempted to have the law repealed. They claim the mandatory red decals do little to reduce car accidents, but instead promote police profiling and put young drivers at risk of stalking and other predatory actions.

Those opposed to the law contend that it creates an unsafe environment for teen drivers. However, the judge who heard the age discrimination lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Kyleigh’s Law dismissed it. According to the judge, nothing in the law violates the New Jersey constitution.

Has this law been effective?

Teens have less experience behind the wheel than older drivers, so it is no surprise that they are more likely to make novice mistakes. Teen’s maturity level can also lead to questionable behavior while driving, including distracted driving. These actions can easily result in serious car accident injuries and fatalities both for the teens and for other motorists and their passengers. The overarching goal of Kyleigh’s Law was to reduce this risk of a crash.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, it is effective. The study found that the number of New Jersey’s young drivers involved in a car accident decreased by 9.5 percent in the first two years after Kyleigh’s Law went into effect. This means almost 3,200 fewer teen crashes occurred during 2011 and 2012 than expected based on the number of total car accidents in the state.

Call Cordisco & Saile After a NJ Car Crash

Beyond observing Kyleigh’s Law, families can help decrease the likelihood of a teen driving crash by taking part in Teen Drivers Safety Week (October 19-25). And if their teen is ever in an accident that somebody else caused, parents should speak with a lawyer for help with the legal process.

At Cordisco & Saile LLC, we represent victims of car accidents caused by careless or negligent drivers. If you suffered injuries in a New Jersey car crash, you may be able to recover damages for your car accident injuries. Call us today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our personal injury attorneys.