Posted on Nov 30, 2011

New Jersey is known for having some of the toughest driving laws, along with supervision of new drivers through its tiered licensing system.  Well, as a result of the deaths of four teenagers in an auto accident last summer, the laws could get even tougher.

Currently, 16-year-olds in New Jersey can obtain a learner's permit, allowing them to drive with a licensed adult in the car for six months after completing a 6-hour driving course.  Once they turn 17, they can apply for a Graduated Driver's License (GDL), which has other restrictions.  The legislation being considered would require that

  • Certified driving instruction be private and one-on-one;
  • The learner's permit phase be extended to one year for all new drivers up to age 21;
  • All drivers under 18 must have a parent or other adult complete an approved teen driver orientation program with the teen, either in person or online, before they can get a license.

In addition to that, the proposed law would require more practice hours with a supervising adult.  One of the reasons given for extending the permit period to one year was to give the teen driver more experience with driving in all weather conditions during this phase.

Unlike other laws that have been proposed or enacted in New Jersey, this one was not in reaction to the auto accident that killed the four teens.  These changes were recommended in 2008 by a commission created to study teen driver safety.  Some of the changes in the report have already been implemented, and the accident renewed interest in implementing the rest.  The legislation is still pending passage by the assembly and the senate.

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