Researchers Find GDL Decal Laws Improve Teen Driving Safety

Teen drivers are not as experienced on the roads as older motorists, which puts them at higher risk of being involved in crashes. Most states have put laws in place to restrict certain elements of driving, such as curfews and passenger limits. New Jersey has one of the strictest graduated driver licensing (GDL) policies for teenage drivers. In 2010, lawmakers added another policy to the list, requiring all GDL drivers to have a red decal placed on their license plate.

New Jersey is the first state to adopt this practice, which is common in other countries, and researchers from The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) recently investigated the effect the new rule was having. The research team compared crash reports and driver citations from the two years preceding and the year following the decal law implementation, and they found the decals prevented an estimated 1,600 accidents involving probationary drivers.

"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," said Dr. Allison E. Curry, director of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP. "We hope that our study can help other states looking to reduce teen crash rates."

Staying safe on the roads involves more than laws to restrict younger drivers, and it is important for teen drivers to know the dangers as well as good practices. They should also be driving safe, reliable vehicles, which means getting regular maintenance to ensure their cars are running well to prevent mechanical issues from occurring while teens are behind the wheel. The experts at NJ Auto Auction's Total Car Care Center can help young NJ drivers take care of their rides.