Road safety advocates are voicing their support for a proposed New Jersey law that would significantly change the process for young drivers attempting to obtain a license.

A new coalition, Partners for Practice Hours, wants to see New Jersey come off of a short list of states that do not require teen permit holders to log a certain number of supervised driving hours ahead of becoming eligible for a probationary license.

"Forty-seven other states managed to do this," said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. "The bottom line is it's going to save teen lives."

The coalition, which includes AAA Clubs of New Jersey and more than 20 other organizations, wants lawmakers to move ahead with S1963/A1354, which would require new permit holders under the age of 21 to complete 50 hours of supervised driving. Ten of those hours would have to be completed at night. The supervised driver could be a parent, guardian, or older sibling, for example.

It'd be up to to the supervising driver to certify that the practice hours were completed. The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission would be able to suspend the driving privileges of a permit holder who submits a fraudulent certification.

"We are aiming to decrease the likelihood of a newer driver's involvement in a fatal crash," said state Sen. Nilsa Cruz Perez, D-Camden, a sponsor of the legislation. "With more practice behind the wheel and an extended learning period, our new drivers and all others on the road will be much safer."

The legislation increases the permit phase from six months to 12 months, before someone can become eligible for a probationary license.

The legislation has been approved by transportation committees in both the Assembly and Senate.

According to a study from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, drivers aged 16 to 17 are four times as likely as drivers 18 and older to be involved in a crash, and 2.5 as likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

Contact reporter Dino Flammia at

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