• Jun 7, 2010
Teenagers in New Jersey feel even more singled out than their standard egocentrism engenders. New drivers in the state are required to purchase red decals for their license plates, letting other motorists and law enforcement know who's behind the wheel. Critics of the law say it also puts a big target on the car for anyone intending to do harm to young people. The stickers making easy prey for sex offenders is a big factor in the movement against the legislation.
While opponents of the law argue about the safety of teen motorists, supporters say they are also concerned for the well-being of youngsters. Backers of the law argue that bad actors can find teenagers in places like malls and parking lots as it is, and the law makes it possible for law enforcement to uphold the restrictions on younger drivers that are intended to keep them safe. According to The Wall Street Journal, many teens and parents are refusing to follow the law, opting to pay the $100 fine that may result if caught. Opposition has been gathering on Facebook and other social media outposts, and legislation to repeal the requirement has been introduced.

[Source: The Wall Street Journal – subs. req.]


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  • 57 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      Essentially what is going on here is that the legislators have realized that the entire concept of a driver's license is useless. They are admitting that some people with a license don't know how to drive. Instead of working on that side of the problem -- by, you know, making a driver's license mean something -- they throw out a band-aid. Typical.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Very few people with NJ plates can actually drive; does it make a difference if they're teens?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Rather than give them a Scarlet Letter why don't we simply teach them to drive better?

      http://www.caranddriver.com/features/10q2/redesigning_driver_education_for_teenagers-feature
      • 4 Years Ago
      The idea that having a small tag on the plate attracts unwanted attention is purile and has no basis in fact. It sounds more like someone clutching for an excuse.

      It may be of no consequence to those that live inside the borders of the USA, but many other countries use tags or plates to identify learner/novice drivers. Why? Because they work

      In Australia, learner drivers must display a plate with a yellow background with a black uppercase L. Novice or provisional drivers must display a white plate with a red P for the first 12 months and then a green P for the remaining 24 months. These rules apply regardless of the drivers age.

      They make all other road users aware the driver of that vehicle is less experienced.

      Simple as that.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I don't know for sure as I have only visited there, but I believe British Columbia has had a similar program in place for years - except that you place a big sticker on the rear window. It was for all new drivers, regardless of age. I think as long as it goes for all new drivers, 16 to seniors, its a fine program.

      I liked it, you know who to avoid or watch for rookie behaviour.

      As for the people who believe that child predators are going to get a leg up - seriously? Do you think these guys need a sticker to figure out who is young? Wouldn't they just look at the driver to see? Wouldn't they prefer to prey on kids that aren't in a car? You know, offer them a ride?
        • 4 Years Ago
        The predator would track cars, not the people. They would go to a car with the the red sticker on the plate and just wait until the unsuspecting teen returned to their car. It would be very easy and when the teen goes to open their door the predator could strong arm the teen into the car and assault them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Most provinces in Canada require a large sticker be placed on the car of newbie drivers. Age is not a factor. Seems totally reasonable to me. I haven't heard of predators singling them out because the driver might be a teen.

        Seen similar stickers in Asia and Europe.

        Crime is at the some of the lowest levels ever, and yet it seems people need some reason to freak out. Given the atrocious driving skills of many drivers, I wish the requirements encouraged situational awareness and better understanding of the laws.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I live in Jersey and this law is complete BS. It's yet another way for our corrupt state to extort more money from citizens after they have finished brutalizing us with obscene levels of property taxes.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Seems to be quite a controversial law.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Its probably a good idea. Something similar is used in Europe to indicate drivers with a new license, until they get their feet wet and some experience. People know to give them a little extra room and cut them a little slack.

      All these arguments against it are largely a smoke screen.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I don't understand this mentality that because you are on one side of an argument the other side is illegitimate.
        Or, more to the point, that the other side doesn't hold that view at all, but simply are using it as leverage of some kind or a trick or something.

        Isn't it perfectly possible that other people just disagree with you?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Teenagers get a red mark, and drivers over 80 will be required to keep their right turn signal on at all times?

      (sorry... too obvious)
      • 4 Years Ago
      Paint a bullseye on cars for criminals and predators. Nice job New Jersey.
        • 4 Years Ago
        good luck with that.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm pretty sure a predator could tell they're young, even without the red tag.
        • 4 Years Ago
        the idea that this is going to make teens more prone to sex offenders and the like is so asinine it's ridiculous.
        • 4 Years Ago
        You just stick with your feel good ideas.

        That is, until a criminal is caught and during his police interrogation admits the marking on the license plate was a factor in stalking that particular victim. Career criminals are predators and look for the weak in the flock. Typically young people and seniors fit that mold.

      • 4 Years Ago
      This is retarded. Why not just strong arm another few bucks from the people the old fashioned way rather than invent some ridiculous law cloaked in safety concerns. This is so asinine. Are drivers fined for forgetting to remove the scarlet letter when a parent is driving?

      Way to go NJ!
      • 4 Years Ago
      There are numerous problems with these decals, but I think with some variations it could work.

      The easy prey for sex offenders isn't a good enough argument because it wouldn't really make them easy targets. Sex offenders could just as easily see through the glass or follow children from school. If you say it’s still valid argument, then logic says we should also put tints on every car. If a sex offender were going to target a teen, they would do so regardless. They wouldn't be driving around, see the decal, and go...hmmm...maybe I should target that car.

      However, there are still other issues with the decal because it would bring more attention to them and may bring undue prejudice against them. The question is whether the cost-benefit worth it? I think so. I may be a bit biased here, since I'm no longer a "new" driver, but I do believe it would make the roads safer. I recently read a Autoblog story that said that 50% of new drivers get into accidents! This is a problem and I think these decals would help. The decal would alert drivers to keep a watch out. It would be like wearing a necklace that alerts people of a medical condition; if something should happen, people would know exactly how to save ones life.

      In Japan and other countries in Europe, they have similar regulations. Japan has a rule that says if an experienced driver were involved in an accident with a newbie, the experienced driver would be at fault. This would solve the prejudice problem and definitely makes sense, because it puts pressure on everyone to not only drive safer, but to also make sure everyone else drives safer as well. Of course, there should also be stipulations that would take the blame off the experience driver if an accident were completely unavoidable.

      An interesting recurring idea I have read was to put decals on drivers who get into accidents. I think this is a good idea, too, but there should be a one time forgiveness and/or really minor stuff should be ignored. I don’t think speeding tickets and a few other tickets should be included, but stuff like DUIs, running a red light, going down a one way, tailgating, and really stupid offenses should be given decals. Cops should also be given regulations where they wouldn’t be able to target these new drivers. Maybe a new point system can be created where the new driver would have to wear the decal an extra 3 months if pulled over, but no fines or regular points be given.

      A practical issue is the fact that the decal doesn't seem to be removable. If it can’t be removed, what would happen to families that share cars? I know in Romania a suction cup sign is used instead of a decal, this would cost a little more, but I would surely pay an extra $2 for it.

      BUT, if you really want to make the streets super safe, there needs to be more strict driving tests. In Holland, I believe one has to learn how to drift and be able to control the car. That would be cool. Or some regulation in between can be made where expert drivers who pass stringent tests (like drifting) be given a special blue sticker. It would also not be limited to non-new drivers. If newbies are able to pass these super strict tests, they can avoid the red decal and may be given a blue decal or not have to wear the red decal. In Le Mans, different cars now have different colored lights indicating the class of a car. If cars can be differentiated by driver skill on the road, I think it would definitely make the roads safer. NJ can even go so far as to allow blue decaled cars go a little faster! Creating incentives such as this for drivers would definitely motivate people to drive safer and/or gain more skill. However, we live in a bureaucracy that would probably never let happen.
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