The Young and the Reckless
To experience a rite of passage is to graduate to a new level of maturity and responsibility in the eyes of your community. That’s especially true of the New Jersey Graduated Driver’s License program. In New Jersey, during your first year of driving, you are restricted to driving only when an adult is present in the vehicle. After that, once you obtain a graduated driver’s license, as it’s referred to, you may drive with one passenger (maybe a friend) – and one passenger only – unless an adult is present in the vehicle.
This week, New Jersey lawmakers are considering whether to strengthen the law. Perhaps the penalties for violating the guidelines of the graduated license should be stricter. As of now, a $100 fine is given to a driver found in violation of the guidelines. However, no points are assessed to the drivers’ license and the penalty ends when the fine is paid. The lawmakers are revisiting the rule because this past week four teenagers died in a car crash driven by a 17-year old who was transporting himself and seven of his friends to a restaurant (the car only sat seven altogether). The teen driver had exceeded the restrictions of the license by six passengers (and the seats of the car by 1 body).
So, is a measly $100 enough of a preventative measure? Apparently not. $100 is a lot of money, but not in comparison to the four young lives that were ended in a reckless accident. The SUV swerved and flipped, tossing passengers from the vehicle. Only four of the eight inside were wearing seatbelts, which begs the question, should lawmakers also beef-up penalties for breaking that law as well?
Too many passengers in an inexperienced driver’s vehicles are dangerous for two reasons: 1) they cause distractions and 2) they add to the amount of fatalities in the event of a deadly crash, which there is a higher rate of when it comes to young drivers.
Pay attention on the road and follow the rules. It’s a small price to pay for your health and safety.