Teenage drivers in New Jersey

Reducing accidents involving teen drivers is the goal of New Jersey’s Graduated Driver’s License program. Teens can obtain permits at 16-years-old.

New Jersey residents face a myriad of dangers on the roads every day. These can come in the form of drunk drivers, distracted drivers and more. Young and inexperienced drivers can also pose serious risks to others. It is for this reason that New Jersey has established a phased approach to receiving drivers' licenses for teenagers.

A national concern

New Jersey is not alone in adopting a Graduated Drivers' License program. Starting in the late 1990s, this effort began and by 2011 every state and the District of Columbia had some such program in place. The National Institute of Health has conducted multiple studies which show that teen fatalities in car accidents have been reduced due to this approach. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration also indicates that accidents with teen drivers are less common thanks to a phased approach to teen licenses.

As explained by the Governors Highway Safety Association, Graduated Drivers' License programs generally require young drivers to pass multiple steps before obtaining a driver's license with no restrictions.

How does New Jersey approach teen drivers?

For teenagers who wish to begin driving at 16 years of age, the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission has what it calls the Early Bird Road. A student driving permit can be obtained which allows the teen to drive while supervised. The supervisor must be 21 years of age or older. No driving is allowed between 11:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. There are restrictions on passengers and special decals must be put on both the front and rear license plates as well. Completion of an approved driver's education course is required for a student driving permit.

For kids who are 17 years of age when they seek an initial permit, the state offers what it calls the Young Adult Road. Instead of a student driving permit, a teen can obtain an examination permit. This is very similar but without the requirement to complete a driver's education course.

After the supervised driving period, which must last a minimum of six months, a probationary license can be issued. At this point, a teen can drive without supervision but may still only have one passenger in the vehicle. Upon turning 18, a teenager can apply for a basic driver's license.

Safety matters

A graduated approach to licensing teenage drivers can be a good thing but it may not be enough to prevent all accidents. When a crash involving a young driver does happen, help is still needed. Talking to an attorney at this time is important.