Bill is Named Nikhil’s Law After 11-Year-Old Killed by Driver Who Ran Stop Sign
(TRENTON) – Legislation Assembly Democrats John McKeon and Charles Mainor sponsored to emphasize to new drivers the importance of following the state’s motor vehicle traffic laws was advanced Thursday by an Assembly panel.
The bill (A-1781) would require the Commissioner of the Motor Vehicle Commission to expand the driver’s license examination to include a question asking whether the applicant is aware of the dangers of failing to follow this state’s motor vehicle traffic laws and whether they are aware that they have the option to take the STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge.
The bill is named Nikhil’s Law in honor of Nikhil Badlani of West Orange, an 11-year old exemplary student and aspiring musician who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident involving a driver who ran a stop sign. Nikhil’s father spoke in favor of the bill on Thursday.
“This is a simple step we can take to emphasize to our young people that driving comes with responsibility,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “The more we can emphasize that point, hopefully the more our young drivers will put safety first and we can save lives.”
“Driving is a big responsibility,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Emphasizing the need for safety is always a good thing. There is never a downside to emphasizing safety.”
The STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge is as follows:
“In order to ensure the safety of others on the road, passengers in my car, and myself as a driver, I pledge to obey traffic laws while operating a motor vehicle, be extra cautious, and be attentive to traffic signs and signals and road conditions. Specifically:
“I will come to a complete stop at every “stop” sign or red traffic light, and will not proceed through a red traffic light;
“I will stay alert, keep two hands on the steering wheel whenever possible, and keep my mind on the road;
“I will talk safely by using a hands-free wireless telephone while driving if I am of lawful age to do so and refrain from texting while driving; and
“I will plan ahead and leave enough time to arrive at my destination.”
The bill also would require the commissioner, in consultation with the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, to include in the driver’s manual information explaining the dangers of failing to follow the state’s motor vehicle traffic laws. This information must provide interested drivers with instructions on how to take the “STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge.”
The commissioner also is required by the bill to ensure that drivers have the option of taking the pledge by filling out a standard form made available at motor vehicle offices or by following instructions publicized by the commissioner directing interested drivers to the appropriate website to complete the pledge.
The bill was released by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee chaired by Mainor.