FAIRFIELD, NJ — In late December, the Fairfield Police Department investigated two separate motor vehicle crashes involving young, inexperienced drivers from Fairfield who responding officers said were operating vehicles in both fast and careless manners. The department is now requesting that parents have conversations with their children about the importance of operating a motor vehicle in a safe and responsible manner—especially those with provisional licenses.  

According to Fairfield Police Chief Anthony Manna, the department also intends on meeting with the administration of West Essex High School and police representatives from the other sending to see what more can be done to “educate high school-level drivers about the dangers of operating a car carelessly.”

“While there are some who may not agree with the restrictions placed on provisional drivers, it is state law,” said Manna. “The Fairfield Police Department will have zero tolerance for provisional driver’s license violations and vehicles operated in a careless or reckless way.”

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The first of these incidents involved a five-car crash that took place at the intersection of Greenbrook Road and Passaic Avenue at approximately 3 p.m. on Dec. 19.

The investigation, conducted by Officer Nicholas Cocchi, determined that a 17-year-old male licensed driver from Fairfield caused the crash, according to police.

The teen driver, who was operating a 2015 Maserati, was initially traveling west on Greenbrook Road in the right lane behind a vehicle that he felt was moving too slowly, according to police. The Maserati then changed lane change, successfully passed the other vehicle and returned to the right lane, as the driver intended to make a right turn onto Passaic Avenue, police said.

When attempting to make the turn onto Passaic, the vehicle began to swerve out of control and struck another vehicle that was waiting to make a left turn onto Greenbrook Road, according to police. The Maserati then struck two other vehicles on Passaic Avenue.

As a result of the crash, five people were injured and three of them were transported to the hospital. Police reported that none of the injuries were deemed severe or life threatening.

The driver of the Maserati was issued 11 summonses, including careless and reckless driving, failure to observe a traffic control device, violating passenger restrictions for provisional drivers and violating decal requirements for provisional drivers.

On Dec. 27, at approximately 9:30 p.m., Sgt. John McGrory was traveling west on Sand Road in an unmarked police vehicle. According to police, the sergeant was about to make a left turn onto Stag Trail when he noticed a 2018 BMW— operated by a 17-year-old female licensed driver from Fairfield—attempting to improperly pass his vehicle on the left.

Although the officer was able to steer to the right to avoid the collision, the teen driver lost control of the BMW, which left the roadway, went onto the lawn of a Sand Road residence and struck a 2020 Audi that was parked in the driveway. According to police, the Audi was then pushed into a stone garden wall and then into the home’s foundation.

No one was injured in this incident, and the there was no structural damage to the home, according to police.

The driver was issued summonses for improper passing, careless driving and for not displaying a reflectorized provisional driver decal.

“Thankfully, it appears that only by the grace of God that neither of these incidents resulted in serious injury or death,” said Manna. “We are hoping that by thoroughly reporting these two accidents to the public, it will provide parents with a good opportunity to speak with their children about how they operate their cars and will allow young drivers to also reflect on how they drive. Most importantly, we are hopeful it averts a tragedy in the future.”

The police department is also reminding the public about the following conditions placed on New Jersey provisional licensed drivers:

  • Provisional drivers must display a reflectorized decal on each license plate.
  • No driving after 11:01 p.m. and before 5:00 a.m.
  • Parent(s), guardian(s) or dependent(s) are allowed as passengers. A dependent is considered a permit or probationary driver’s child, not siblings.
  • Only one additional passenger is allowed unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.