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Kyleigh’s Misfortune, Our Law

Updated on November 8, 2014
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In 2006, Kyleigh D’Alessio a 16-year-old from Washington Township, Morris County was involved in an automobile accident that ultimately resulted in her death. The driver, Tanner Birch, was also a teen from Washington Township. Four years later a bill was proposed to prevent future events such as this was passed. Formally named S2314, but more commonly known as Kyleigh’s Law, was set into effect as of May 1st, 2010. Nine months have come and gone and Kyleigh’s Law has been met only with wide spread noncompliance, by not only young drivers, but also their parents. The law has been deemed “discriminatory and dangerous” by the National Youth Rights Association and rallies have been held all over New Jersey by students to have it repealed. Before Kyleigh’s Law 17-year-olds hold provisional licenses were already under time and passenger restrictions. Now, so many changes have been made that “provisional” has been made “probationary”. Needless to say, Kyleigh’s death was terrible and she is well missed by friends and family. However, it was not an intentional death brought on by the reckless driving of a teen and therefore new drivers in general are not to blame and should not be so severely punished.

Probably the least controversial changes are a difference in time restrictions and the ability to use hand-held or hands-free devices was suspended. Time restrictions went from being able to drive between 5:01am and 12:00am; probationary drivers can only drive between 5:01am and 11:00pm. I suspect the reasoning for this is that even probationary can get waivers to drive after hours for “an emergency which, in the judgment of local police, is of sufficient severity and magnitude to substantially endanger the health, safety, welfare or property of a person, or for any bona fide employment or religion-related activity if the employer or appropriate religious authority provides written verification of such activity in a manner provided for by the [director] chief administrator” or the simple fact that no matter the situation or what the time restrictions legitimately are, a majority of teenagers will be out and about after hours. When asked how many times she has driven after hours a teenage driver that chose to be quoted anonymously, stated: “Time restrictions aren’t fair for teens because even we are put in situations where we may need to drive to get somewhere quickly, like in an emergency or having to be a designated driver late at night.” As for the ability to use hand held devices, its common sense that if someone is texting and driving his driving abilities will be impaired thus endangering himself and others. However, teens can get in trouble for checking their phones at stop signs, red lights or when stuck in heavy bumper-to-bumper traffic. In an effort to lessen the risk of accidents a plethora of hands-free devices, such as blue tooth, Jupiter Jack, etc., have been invented to let the user of the phone to talk on the phone or use voice commands to send messages without having to look at any screens or touch any keys. Despite this, Kyleigh’s Law has deemed it illegal for teens to even use these hands free mechanisms.

Highway Safety & Research Communications

A total of 2,823 teenagers ages 13-19 died in motor vehicle crashes in 2012. This is 68 percent fewer than in 1975 and 7 percent fewer than in 2011. About 2 out of every 3 teenagers killed in crashes in 2012 were males. Teenage crash deaths have decreased more among males (72 percent) than among females (56 percent).

A memorial for Kyleigh
A memorial for Kyleigh | Source

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