🚗 NJ should boost teen driver and seat belt rules, a report suggests

🚗 NJ is in the 'caution' category of the rankings, based on its traffic safety laws

🚗 The group behind the report is pushing for automated speed enforcement

New Jersey falls way short with maximizing safety on its roadways, according to a report released Tuesday by a national nonprofit.

The Garden State earns a "caution" ranking in the 2024 Roadmap to Safety report from Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, for failing to have a number of the group's recommended laws on its books.

Just six states managed to have enough laws in place to earn a "good" rating in the report. New Jersey is one of 34 states in the second tier, for gaps in "recommended optimal laws."

Nearly 6,000 people lost their lives on New Jersey's roads over a 10-year period ending in 2022, according to the report. That includes about 700 people last year alone.


In the report, New Jersey checks nine of the 16 boxes presented by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

All people on motorcycles in New Jersey, for example, must wear a helmet, and kids in the car need to be rear-facing through at least age 2. Also, an unbuckled driver or front-seat passenger can be the primary reason a cop stops a vehicle.

But police can not pull over a vehicle simply because a passenger in the back seat is unbuckled. That's one of the misses marked for New Jersey in the state-by-state report.

"Some other laws that are lacking in New Jersey are some teen graduated driver licensing laws, and the use of automated enforcement to reduce speed," said Cathy Chase, Advocates president.


Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety began pushing automated speed enforcement as a safety measure in the 2023 report, and the tool remains a focus in this year's installment.

New Jersey loses points for the fact that speed cameras are prohibited. According to the report, 26 states have laws that permit automated enforcement, and 20 have it up and running.

Just one state — Maine — requires 70 hours of supervised driving for a beginner teen. New Jersey lawmakers are looking at setting a minimum of 50 hours for young drivers in the state.

As of Tuesday, New Jersey's count of 532 fatal crashes in 2023 is down from 606 recorded at the same time last year.

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