MONTCLAIR, NJ - For the past four years, New Jersey teen drivers have been required to display red license plate decals on their vehicles. During National Teen Driver Safety Week, Oct. 19-25, select Essex County Police departments will launch a positive reinforcement Campaign to reward teen drivers for using the decal. 
 
Select Essex County police departments will randomly stop and “ticket” teens and adults displaying the decal.  What’s the catch?  This “ticket” is actually a note of thanks that includes a $5 gift card for use at local merchants.
 
 
The positive reinforcement initiative is a pilot put together by the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition, Essex County Community Traffic Safety Program, Drive Safer, and the DCH Teen Safe Driving Foundation who have teamed up for this campaign. 
 
If the program is successful, the partners plan to roll it out statewide next May to commemorate the fifth anniversary of the decal provision.
 

Police officials have reported that the decal has helped them identify teen drivers and enforce state provisions regarding enforcing the passenger, nighttime driving, cell phone/texting, and seat belt provisions of the state’s Graduated Driver License (GDL)program. 

According to research conducted by The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 1,600 fewer New Jersey 17-year-olds crashed during the first year of the decal requirement, also known as Kyleigh’s Law, than in the previous year.  

“We seldom say ‘thank you’ to the people who do the right thing and instead focus on punishing those who disobey the rules,” said Arnold Anderson, coordinator of the Essex County Community Traffic Safety Program. “This effort is all about recognizing those who are doing a good job.” 

The campaign will culminate on Sunday, October 25 with a behind-the-wheel, teen driving “boot camp” at Met Life Stadium parking lot in East Rutherford, presented by Drive Safer.  A select number of decal thank you notes will include a complimentary registration for the boot camp, which helps teens develop skills in hazard avoidance, panic braking, and vehicle and skid control. 

“Car crashes kill more teens annually than drugs, homicide and suicide combined.  Teen Driver Safety Week is held annually to educate teens and their parents about the dangers novice drivers face and encourage them to adopt safe driving habits that will help them become good drivers for life,” said Jason Friedman, CEO of Drive Safer.  “In our view, this week is about rewarding new drivers who do the right thing, who recognize that the rules are in place to help them survive their most dangerous driving years.”  

According to Fatal Accident Reporting System data compiled by the New Jersey State Police, most serious and fatal injury teen crashes involve drivers 18 to 20 years of age. 

“Although teens only need to display the red decal during the permit and probationary license phases of the GDL program (typically 18-24 months), once they remove it their crash risk still remains high,” said Pam Fischer, leader of the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition.  “That’s why the decal thank you campaign calls on teens to keep up the good work after they complete the GDL program by eliminating distractions caused by cell phones and passengers, limiting late night driving, and always buckling up every trip.”

For more information about New Jersey’s GDL program, visit www.njteendriving.com. To learn more and/or register for the Drive Safer car control boot camp, visit www.drivesafer.com.

About the NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition

The NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition (www.nsc.org/njteens-gdl4u) is supported by The Allstate Foundation and managed by the National Safety Council.  The Coalition seeks to establish a culture of safe teen driving based on the proven principles of Graduated Driver Licensing.  Coalition members are volunteers from state and local law enforcement, highway safety and transportation, public health and the medical community, and injury prevention, as well as teens, parents, business leaders, and family members and friends of teen crash victims.

About the DCH Auto Group Charitable Foundation

The DCH Auto Group Charitable Foundation, also known as the DCH Teen Safe Driving Foundation (www.DCHTSDF.org), is a 501(c)3 non-profit charitable organization dedicated to reducing the number of deaths and injuries resulting from teen-related auto crashes by promoting safe driving through greater awareness, education and advocacy directed to teens and their parents.

About the ECCPA Community Traffic Safety Program

The Community Traffic Safety Program (CTSP) at the Essex County College Police Academy was established under a grant from the New Jersey Division of Highway Traffic Safety.  The ECCPA/CTSP coordinates all traffic safety related efforts within Essex County as well as a source for obtaining information on traffic related issues through community outreach, public speaking engagements and the dissemination of traffic safety literature. For more information contact Arnold “Andy” Anderson at anderson158@essex.edu.

About Drive Safer

Drive Safer provides the premier car control and defensive driving courses in the U.S., preparing students to control their vehicles in the face of real-world distractions and dangers that take thousands of lives annually. Drive Safer’s certified high performance driving instructors provide hands-on training ensuring that students know how to handle and avoid hazardous behind the wheel situations. Drive Safer also partners with high schools to provide in-classroom workshops and presentations and has a fundraising program which donates a percentage of registration fees back to partner schools.  For more information on Drive Safer, including courses, dates, locations and fundraising programs, please visit www.drivesafer.com