Students in New Jersey enter high school eager to take part in many time honored American traditions. New classes, football games, prom and getting a license are all freedoms granted to high school students for being a little older, a little wiser, and a little more mature. However, over the past couple of years, the high school experience has been changing dramatically for NJ teens. For students in Willingboro, Jackson, Freehold, East Brunswick and other towns throughout NJ, whose biggest concern was once choosing an outfit for school, are now concerned with choosing an outfit to wear to their best friend\'s funeral. Due to the recent increase in accidents involving teenage drivers, we feel an evaluation and possible change to the existing driving laws in NJ is necessary.
Experts believe that most accidents occur due to inexperience, distraction, and lack of maturity, all rampant qualities among today\'s teens. Brain scan research has shown that teenagers use the Amygdala, a region of the brain that is reactionary rather than rational, which can lead to immature, impulsive behavior.
The NJ state government has begun to recognize the cost of having such young, inexperienced drivers behind the wheel. In 2001 our state legislature passed a Graduated Drivers License law. This law allows teenagers two different roads to travel in pursuit of their driver\'s license. The \"Early Bird\" Road, allows a teenager as young as 16 years old to obtain a driving permit. After meeting the few requirements for an \"Early Bird\" license, which include hiring a driving instructor, passing a vision test, a knowledge test, and providing six points of ID, a teenager may obtain a permit and drive NJ roads with relatively few restrictions. An \"Early Bird\" driver can drive between the hours of 5:01am to 11:00pm as long as they have a 21 year-old driver in the car. There is currently no limit on the amount of passengers an inexperienced driver with a permit is allowed to have in their car, but the type of passenger can consist of only one non-family member. After a six-month period of supervised driving, a teenager can then obtain a provisional license, for which the restrictions become even more lenient. With a provisional license, a teenager does not need an experienced driver in the car, and their restrictive driving hours are limited to 12:01am to 5:00am. After a year of unsupervised driving, a teenager will then obtain a basic drivers license with no restrictions. The second road, the \"Young Adult\" Road, allows teenagers to obtain a provisional license at the age of 17. The only difference between this road and the \"Early Bird\" road is that there is no driving instructor required; all of the regulations and restrictions are the same.
These laws are inadequate to address this problem because the restrictions placed upon teen drivers are almost impossible to enforce. There are simply not enough officers in the state to regulate every teen driver on the road. In a state whose cities have claimed the non-prestigious titles of, murder capital of America(Camden) and stolen car capital of America(Newark), it is evident that our law enforcement resources are needed to address more substantial problems. The family restriction is even more difficult to regulate. How does one show proof of relation, especially in a world of extended and adoptive families
By instituting the Graduate Drivers License program in 2001, our state government has recognized that having such young, inexperienced drivers behind the wheel has cost the lives of too many New Jerseyans. However, 6 years after the implementation of these laws, we are still losing 118 people a day, proving that the Graduated Drivers License restrictions are not enough to keep our roads safe. Driving laws are reserved powers, granted to the states by the Constitution. Because of this, it is up to the New Jersey State Legislature to address and resolve this issue.
Help us make New Jersey roads safer by signing this petition, use your voice to make our state legislators aware that driving reform is needed now! Enough lives have been lost! There must be an increase in age to be eligible for a license, a more comprehensive written exam, a more realistic road test and more required hours with a certified driving instructor.
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