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Kyleigh's Law - Keeping Kids Safe Behind The Wheel (Part One)

Posted by Jane Akre
Friday, May 14, 2010 4:00 PM EST
Category: On The Road
Tags: Kyleigh's Law, Graduated Driver's Licenses, Auto Accidents, Teen Fatalities, Teen Drivers, Texting, NHTSA, IIHS

Kyleigh, 16, died in a car with a teen driver and other teens.


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IMAGE SOURCE: Newjersey.com Web site

At a news conference in Flanders, New Jersey, Wednesday, a group of parents, teens, and grandparents showed up protesting Kyleigh’s Law, which became effective in New Jersey May 1.

The first-in-the-nation law requires probationary drivers, ages 16 to 20, to affix a $4 pair of red fluorescent decals on their front and rear license plates during a one-year provisional license period.

A $100 fine can result if teens fail to do so.

The decals were intended to make it easier for police to identify first-time drivers on the road and ticket them if they violate the provision of the New Jersey’s graduated licensing restrictions.

Kyleigh’s law tightens the graduated licensing restrictions that were already in place by prohibiting teens from driving between 11 p.m. to 5 a.m., limiting car occupants to one other underage passenger, and prohibiting any use of “interactive wireless communication.”

The law is named for Kyleigh D'Alessio, 16, who was killed in a 2006 crash in a car driven by a teen driver, who was also killed, with other teens in the car, a violation of the graduated driver license laws. Kyleigh’s mother, Donna Weeks has pursued the law ever since.

In a statementWeeks said, “If there was a better way to enforce this law I would be all for it. If we do not enforce this law, we will continue to lose previous teens’ lives in senseless car accidents.”

Profiling and Stalking

The protest was organized on a Facebook page and has been growing in numbers and volume. Chanting “Repeal Kyleigh’s Law” the protestors want the new law repealed because they say the red decals are more like scarlet letters that target teenage drivers in public.

Though there has been no evidence, protestors say that sexual predators can more easily find and follow teen drivers. Others feel the red decals are akin to profiling.

The National Youth Rights Association calls the law “discriminatory and dangerous” and is encouraging all New Jersey motorists, including those not required to, to place the decals on their license plates.

One protest organizer, Christopher Schnurr, 17, of Andover Township, tells NewJersey.com, "I think it's really important we stand up for ourselves as teens. If something like this happened for the elderly, there would be an uproar."

Since the May 1 law went into effect, anti-Kyleigh Law Facebook pages have sprouted up and a bill has been introduced to repeal the law, which may be supported by the original backers of Kyleigh's Law.

Teens say having decals will not deter some kids from not following the rules. Drivers face a $100 fine if they do not have the decal inside their car during a police stop.

NewJersey.com reports on Sara Murphy, 17, who was pulled over by a police officer who said he saw a light emanating from her car. When Murphy said she wasn’t using a cell phone but her passenger was using an iPod, she got a $54 ticket for a hanging air freshener and guardian angel the officer called an obstruction. Her mother calls that targeting.

In Florida in the 1990s, the state marked the license plates of rental cars with a “Y” or “Z". The policy was pulled when tourists were targeted with smash-and-grab robberies, assaults, and murders.

Leading Cause of Death

A total of 4,054 teenagers ages 13-19 lost their lives in motor vehicle crashes in 2008, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

That number represents a 54% drop from 1975 and 19% drop from 2007.

About two out of three killed in crashes were males. Auto accidents remain the leading cause of death for teenagers. And another 350,000 were treated for injuries following auto accidents.

46 states including the District of Columbia have graduated license programs for new teen drivers, which are believed to be responsible for a 10 to 30 percent reduction in teen crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. #


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