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State by State: Red Decal Marks the Teen Driver. But Does it Make Them a Target?

By Joel Arellano | August 07, 2012
No wonder teens are increasingly disinterested in learning how to drive these days. Earlier this week, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that it was legal to require teen drivers to designate their status by affixing a red decal on their vehicles' license plate. Opponents of the new law have promised to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court. The law is called Kyleigh's Law, named after Kyleigh D'Alessio, who was killed in a car crash. Says Kyleigh's mother Donna Weeks after the law was passed, "I am pleased to hear about the Supreme Court decision. I always had faith that the courts would rule Kyleigh’s Law constitutional. We must use every tool we have available to save the lives of our children, and I want to thank the justices for protecting our teen drivers." The law was fought on several issues. Opponents like attorney Gregg Trautman say the new state law impedes on existing federal statutes, specifically those protecting a person's personal information. The New Jersey state supreme court disagrees, and writes that "…young drivers have no reasonable expectation of privacy in their age group, which can generally be determined by their physical appearance and is routinely exposed to public view. Because the decal is affixed to the exterior of the car, in plain view, an officer’s review of the decal does not constitute a search." Of more immediate concern to parents and teens is that the decal will act as some sort of "siren call" to sexual predators, especially if the teen driver is female. A study commissioned by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie back in 2010 has only shown three potential occurrences. That's enough for Trautman, who has two teen progeny himself, to question it. Supporters, on the other hand, point to similar systems in other countries and have had no issues. States teen driving safety advocate Pam Fischer, "I’ve had those decals on the car for a year and we’ve never been targeted for any reason. The goal is to try and provide enforcement to prevent the greatest killer of teens – crashes." Automotive.com's take: What's your take on this issue? Should teen drivers be required to "stand out" on the road? Or should they be expected to know the rules like everyone else? Let us know in the comments below. Source: Asbury Park Press
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