New Jersey bills supposed to improve road safety

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 9/6/2012

Two bills halfway through the New Jersey statehouse are intended to make travel safer for everyone on the state’s roadways.

Approved by a two-to-one margin early this summer in the Assembly is a bill to increase requirements for teens to get driver’s licenses. It now awaits consideration in the Senate.

The permit phase of the state’s graduated driver’s license program would be extended from six months to one year for new drivers between the age of 16 and 20, before they become eligible for a probationary license.

If signed into law, affected drivers would be required to log 50 hours of practice driving in the first year before becoming eligible for the license upgrade. At least 10 hours of nighttime driving would be mandated.

“The old saying ‘practice makes perfect’ couldn’t be more true when it comes to learning how to drive,” Assemblyman Albert Coutinho, D-Essex, said in a written statement.

Parents would also be involved in the process. A1571 would require parents to go through driver orientation courses. If unavailable, another relative or supervising adult at least 21 could fill in.

Assemblyman John Wisniewski, D-Middlesex, said the requirements would help produce better and safer teen drivers.

“I want to know that all teen drivers are fully prepared to take the wheel on their own when they head out on the turnpike or parkway or encounter poor driving conditions,” Wisniewski stated.

The program would also be available for drivers between 18 and 21 who are seeking an examination permit. However, the program would not be required.

Another bill under consideration at the statehouse is supposed to improve safety on the state’s roadways through the threat of increased fines.

The Garden State already prohibits drivers from hanging out in the left lane. Motorists have limited left lane use while trucks and buses are forbidden from any travel in the far-left lane on highways with at least three lanes in each direction.

Fines would be increased from a minimum of $50 to as much as $300. S530 is in the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The Senate already approved it.

To view other legislative activities of interest for New Jersey, click here.

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