A recent study showed that a law in New Jersey, requiring novice drivers to indicate they are new behind the wheel by displaying a red decal on their license plate, is helping curb auto accidents and assisting police officers enfore regulations that are unique to new drivers.
Allison Curry, director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, along with her colleagues compared Graduated Driver Licensing teen driver citations and accidents after the decal was implemented and compared them to the two prior years when the decals had not been required. The data showed that there were more than 1,600 crashes prevented after the decals were in place.
Nearly every state in the U.S. requires a GDL law but the decals required under Kyleigh's Law, named after a teenager who was killed in an auto accident in 2006, are the first of their kind across the United States. At any given time, the study showed that there are nearly 65,000 17-year-old probationary drivers on the roads in New Jersey.
"Other countries have been using decals for decades, but this is the first study to rigorously evaluate their effect on crashes," Curry said. "The study shows that by taking an additional step to supplement its GDL laws, New Jersey is helping to keep its young drivers safe."
GDL laws in New Jersey provide separate driving requirements for motorists, including a limited number of passengers allowed in the car, a ban on cell phone and other electronic usage while driving and a curfew from the hours of 11 p.m. to 5 a.m. Motorists can receive a $100 fine for not complying with the regulations.
"The fact that we saw significant crash reductions in New Jersey, a state that already has a strong GDL law and one of the lowest teen crash fatality rates, suggests that implementation of a decal law in states with higher teen crash fatality rates may lead to even more marked reductions," Curry added. "We hope that our study can help other states looking to reduce teen crash rates."
Individuals can also significantly reduce car accidents by having preventative maintenance done to their vehicles. AAA recently recommended that drivers do their homework and write down the issues with their vehicle before heading to a local auto body shop, in order to make the visit as stress-free and helpful for technicians as possible. Motorists are encouraged to have their lighting & electrical systems working properly, as they are crucial to on-road safety.