Teen drivers in New Jersey are about to be called out. It may be the next best thing to a megaphone alerting police and possibly everyone else on the road: Beware! Teen Driver Behind The Wheel of This Car... as in, lethal weapon, get into defensive driving mode. A new law will require cars driven by kids to sport a reflective decal warning fellow motorists who exactly is behind the wheel.
Governor Jon Corzine signed two bills Wednesday. Kyleigh's Law requires all new drivers with special learner's permits, examination permits, and provisional driver's licenses (mostly 18 and under) to put the decals on cars they drive. The other law puts much tougher restrictions in place for teen drivers.
Kyleigh's Law is the first of it's kind in the country and there is one mom behind it, Donna Weeks. Donna's daughter, Kyleigh D'Alessio, was killed in 2006. The 16-year-old honor student from Morris County was riding in a car driven by a teenager with a probationary license.
Donna made it her personal mission to make Kyleigh the face of teen driver safety. She pushed from all sides, working with lawmakers and even getting Kyleigh's closest friends to put together a YouTube video on teen driving dangers.
"No issue is more important than protecting our children, so these efforts are essential to that," Corzine said. "We don't want to lose the beauty and the gifts that a Kyleigh could bring to all of us, and we need to take every step possible to make it something that doesn't occur in the future."
Along with the novice driver decals, the new laws make the Graduated Driver’s License (GDL) program even tougher.
There's already a curfew or blackout period for any driver with an examination permit or provisional permit. Right now they can't be on the road from mignight until 5 a.m. Now the curfew starts an hour earlier at 11 p.m.
A "Provisional License" will become a "Probationary License."
Only one minor can be in the car with you if you're driving with a probationary license, unless you have an adult in the car -- someone 21 or older -- and that adult has been driving for at least three years. Then you can have up to three minors in the car while you're driving.
You cannot use a cell phone under any circumstances, not even hand-free phones.
The new laws go into effect in May 2010. The changes came as a result of a huge study the state did on the dangers of teen driving.