‘Graduate Driver’ rules haven’t slowed teen licenses
The report found that 40 percent of all residents were licensed within one month of New Jersey's minimum age, which is 17. Beyond that, 64 percent were licensed by age 18, 74 percent by age 19, 78 percent by age 20 and 81 percent by age 21.
When New Jersey extended GDL restrictions until the age of 21, there were concerns that the additional guidelines and requirements would delay teens from getting their licenses, but the study found that socio-economic factors played a larger role in delays. New Jersey is the only state in the nation to extend its restrictions until the age of 21.
"Even though there are additional steps that teens need to take in order to get their license, it didn't play a role in the number of those who got their license," said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "Teens and their parents understand that this is a learning period for their children and that the requirements are part of that process. What it came down to was socio-economic factors like their access to a vehicle and their access to mass transit."
In New Jersey's highest-income zip codes, 65 percent of teens got their license within one month of eligibility, compared with 13 percent in the state's lowest-income zip codes.
The Garden State is right in line with the rest of the country when compared with results from a 2013 AAA Foundation study, but there is still work to be done.
"New Jersey is only one of four states right now that does not require mandated practice hours for new drivers," Noble said. "We're hoping that a bill that's moving through the legislature right now passes, so that we can ensure that our teens will get the proper training and be more equipped when they hit the roadways."