You may become more involved in the driving education of your teen than you originally thought!
Under new rules proposed by the NJ Assembly Transportation and Public Works Committee in Trenton, a new driver orientation course that intends to bring together parents and teens in an effort to reduce the number of teen driver accidents (the leading killer of U.S. teens) is being proposed.
Currently, teens age 16 and up will first obtain a student learner’s permit, a probationary license, and then a basic driver’s license. To get a student learner’s permit, teens must pass a knowledge test, vision test, and finish a driver training course (6 hours behind the wheel) among MVC Agency requirements.
Next, they must practice supervised driving for at least six months, at which time they will be required to display a reflectorized decal on each license plate of whichever vehicle they are driving as well as abide by numerous other restrictions (no driving between 11:01 p.m. and 5:00 a.m, passenger restrictions, etc.). Once they turn 17, they must pass the MVC’s road test before receiving a probationary license. During this period, driving restrictions still apply, but the teen is able to drive unsupervised. Finally, at age 18, they are eligible for a basic driver license.
If the new driver orientation course is approved by the Assembly and the State Senate, a few things will change. First, the length of time new drivers of any age have their learner’s permits will increase from six months to one year. That means that during this time, the teen must be supervised by an adult driver who is at least 21 years of age, has a valid NJ driver license, and has a minimum of three years driving experience.
New drivers will also be required to spend at least 50 supervised hours behind the wheel (including 10 hours at night), which will be measured on an honor system. Six hours of driving instruction through a valid driver training course is still required and will only apply to those drivers age 18 and under.
In addition, parents of children under 18 will be required to take the driver orientation course with their teen. This course is approximately 60-75 minutes long and will be presented by trained instructors in community-based settings such as schools and libraries. According to the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety and Kean University, parental influence is a major factor of teen driver safety, which is why parents need to be involved in the driving instruction & supervision of their young drivers.
Even though there is no guarantee that this new driver orientation course will be passed, it is crucial that parents be involved when their teens start to drive. While the current GDL laws are seen as “the single most effective tool in reducing the number of teen driver accidents, and the resulting injuries and fatalities,” it is up to the parents to enforce those driving practices throughout their child’s early driving days, and to fully understand the risks and responsibilities involved in driving a motor vehicle.
Editor's Note: Rich Hauswirth is a 32-year veteran of the insurance industry. He is President of Hauswirth & Sons Insurance Consultants of Forked River and is knowledgeable in Property & Casualty Insurance. He can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.