WEST ORANGE NJ - National Teen Driver Safety Week culminated in some surprises for 17 West Orange High School students and parents on Oct. 24.

To commemorate the week, NJ Teen Safe Driving Coalition, DCH Auto Group, Drive Safer and the Essex County Community Traffic Safety Program piloted a decal "Thank You" program in Essex County. 
In 2010, the State of New Jersey began requiring novice teen drivers to place red decals on their license plates. The decals help police to enforce the passenger, nighttime driving, cell phone/texting, and seat belt provisions of the state’s Graduated Driver License or GDL program, and to help save lives. 
In the first year of the program, studies showed that 1,600 fewer 17 year olds crashed due to the enforcement of the decals, also known as "Kyleigh's Law." Most serious accidents occur with teens ages 18-20, so following the law from the beginning will keep them safer.

“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. 

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

Early Friday morning, students and parents pulling in to WOHS were surprised with red envelopes containing $5.00 gift cards to Dunkin Donuts and Chipotle for complying with the decal requirement and provisions of the GDL. Representatives from the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, the Essex County Community Traffic Safety Program, Drive Safer, the Pleasant Valley Way Civic Association and WOHS Principal Hayden Moore thanked the students and parents from WOHS that displayed the GDL red decal on their cars.  
"The Nikhil Badlani Foundation supports and applauds the efforts of these organizations and the families that are complying with the law to make our children and our roads safer," said President Sangeeta Badlani.
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.driversafer.com.