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Rate of New Jersey teens involved in car accidents decreases

The percentage of teen drivers in New Jersey who were involved in a car accident decreased over the past year, according to a recent study. Authors of the study credit the passage of Kyleigh’s Law, which put special red tags on drivers with restricted licenses to make them easier for police to spot on the road.

New Jersey is one of many states in the country with a graduated licensing system, which starts teen drivers with many restrictions and gradually grants more freedom as they become more experienced drivers. The red tags on their license plates are intended to help police identify teens violating rules like curfew or having too many passengers in their vehicle.

Remarkably, during the first year of enforcement police issued 14 percent more citations to intermediate drivers than during the previous year. There were also 9 percent fewer crashes among that same age group. Based on that decrease, authorities estimate that as many as 1,624 teens were likely to be involved in car accidents were not.

“The number of crashes prevented is equivalent to the number of students attending a large high school. New Jersey youth and other road users are safer as a result of the decals,” said the lead author of the study.

New Jersey is the first state in the country to implement this type of program and advocates say that the initial success shows that better monitoring of teen drivers can save lives.

Teens are still the most likely of any age group to be involved in a car accident. In fact, car crashes are the number one cause of death among teens in the United States. Preventing the accidents that could be avoided by adhering to curfew laws and limits on passengers in the first few years of driving could make a significant dent in the fatality rate for teens.

Source: New Jersey Star-Ledger, “Study: Decal law kept 1,600 young drivers out of crashes in first year,” Louis C. Honchman, Oct. 24, 2012.

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