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Benson & Lopez Bill to Promote Motor Vehicle Safety Among Teen Drivers Passes Committee

(TRENTON) – Drivers with examination permits and special learner’s permits who are under the age of 21 would be required to complete at least 50 hours of practice driving, including ten hours while it’s dark, under legislation approved Monday by the Assembly Transportation and Independent Authorities Committee.

Currently, permit holders must undergo supervised practice driving for a period of three to six months, depending on the type of permit. Motorists must complete six hours of driver’s training behind the wheel before receiving their permit.

Under the bill (A-1354), a parent, guardian or supervising driver of the permit holder must certify that the 50 hours of practice driving were completed. The measure is sponsored by Assembly Democrats Daniel Benson and Yvonne Lopez.

“Car accidents are the leading cause of death among American teenagers,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex), chair of the Transportation Committee. “This bill is about saving lives. By requiring more practice driving for teens, especially at night, we strive to reduce the number of fatal accidents in New Jersey.”

Additionally under the bill, instructors may permit additional students or parents of students to be present in the rear seat of the vehicle while a student completes his or her six-hour, behind-the-wheel driving course required to receive a permit. The Motor Vehicle Commission would also update guidelines for driver education courses in schools.

“Before our children take to the road on their own, we must make sure they are educated and prepared, and have practiced extensively,” said Lopez (D-Middlesex). “Maximizing the time young people spend driving with supervision before they get their license will better ensure their safety, as well as the safety of others on the road.”

The bill now goes to the Assembly Speaker for further consideration.