By Jennifer Geiger on October 26, 2012
Can a license plate sticker prevent teen driving accidents? Yes, according to research from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. The hospital's study looked at the effectiveness of New Jersey's Graduated Driver Licensing program for teens and found that the decal requirement prevented 1,624 teen driving accidents in its first year.
Most state's GDL laws include supervised driving, a ban on nighttime driving and restrictions on passenger load. Since May 2010, all New Jersey drivers ages 16 to 20 are required to display two reflective license plate decals as part of the state's GDL program. Called Kyleigh's Law — named after Kyleigh D'Alessio, a New Jersey teen killed in a car driven by a driver on probation — the decal alerts police that the teen driver has a restricted license, allowing them to spot GDL infractions.
And according to CHOP, the decals are effective. It used New Jersey's licensing and crash record databases to follow the program and measure GDL-related citations from Jan. 1, 2008, to May 31, 2011.
"The rate of intermediate driver crashes significantly declined during the period after the decal requirement went into effect. The number of crashes prevented is equivalent to the number of students attending a large high school. New Jersey youth and other road users are safer as a result of the decals," Allison Curry, director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the Center for Injury Research and Prevention at CHOP, said in a statement.
New Jersey is the only state that requires the decals, and the study's authors hope more will follow suit. According to CHOP, six other states have considered a decal requirement — Kentucky, Michigan, Alaska, Iowa, Minnesota and North Carolina — but legislation is still pending.
"New Jersey already has one of the most comprehensive GDL programs in the country and also one of the lowest teen driver crash fatality rates," the study's authors said in a statement.
Click here for your state's GDL laws.
Assistant Managing Editor Jennifer Geiger is a reviewer, car-seat technician and mom of three. She wears a lot of hats, many of them while driving a minivan. Email Jennifer