MTOWN TEENS TO TEST-DRIVE NEW CAR TAG
A string of fatal car crashes involving teens on provisional licenses has given rise to a test program: requiring those drivers to display a golden decal on the rear windows or bumpers of their cars.
Students wishing to park their cars at the two public high schools in Middletown will be required to have the stickers starting in September, according to news accounts.
The main thrust, says Assemblywoman Amy Handlin of Lincroft, is to help police identify provisional licenseholders.
From a story in today’s Asbury Park Press:
“What law enforcement told us loud and clear was that they had one very severe problem the problem for the police is that they have no way of iden-tifying someone as a provisional license holder,” Handlin said. “So they see someone who looks young driving on the road at 3 o’clock in the morning with five other young people in their car, but they don’t know for sure that that person is on a provisional license. So the police need some way to identify” them.
Township Police Chief Robert Oches said that the purpose of the decals was not to penalize young drivers.
“(The decals are) to let these students know that we do care about their safety,” Oches said. “They are to gain compliance and safety, not to act as punishment.”
“We will be out there looking, making sure students comply with this regulation,” Oches said.
Middletown’s assistant schools superintendent, David Healy, said at Thursday’s news conference that the district is hoping to begin the program in September.
“Middletown is very proud to be on the forefront of this initiative,” Healy said. “Parking (on school property) is a privilege and not a right.”
If the pilot program proves successful, every teenager learning to drive in Monmouth County could eventually be required to display a decal, the Press reports. The Monmouth County Sheriff’s office, headed by Sheriff Kim Guadagno, is funding the test.
The Star-Ledger also has a story that explains what a provisional license is.
Under the graduated driver’s license program adopted by the state in 2001, a 16-year-old with a permit can drive only if accompanied by an adult. The first year of a license for a 17-year-old is provisional, restricting them from driving between 12:01 a.m. and 5 a.m.
They also are prohibited from using cell phones, video games or any other hand-held devices while driving. They are permitted only one person from outside the household as a passenger in the car with them.
More fromt he Sledger:
Similar in design and color but smaller than a New Jersey license plate, the decal has large black letters “GDL” above the words “Graduated Drivers License” and “Please Drive Safely.”
The first batch of provisional drivers to be required to sport them on the rear bumper of their cars will be from the two high schools in Middletown, the largest school district in Monmouth County.
The decals do not give police the authority to pull over a car, just as they currently are not permitted to stop a vehicle carrying a group of teenagers without witnessing some violation, said Lt. R. Craig Weber, commander of Middletown Police Department’s traffic bureau.
Handlin said she is aware of those limitations, but noted the decals also will serve as visual reminders of the restrictions on new drivers.
“Right now, we have nothing,” she said. “Certainly when you’re dealing with the prospect of more deaths … anything is better.”