Teen-driver passenger bill held

TRENTON – The Assembly Transportation Committee dealt with safe-driving bills today.

A2053 – which was held from a vote – would change the law to permit a teenage driver to have siblings and an additional passenger.

After hearing from Pam Fischer, of the N.J. Teen Safe Driving Coalition, Chair John Wisniewski said he would hold the bill and would have to get in touch with sponsor Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, who was not at the hearing Monday.

The bill would make an exception to the probationary driver law, which states a probationary driver can have one additional passenger.

Fischer said she could not agree to allowing more passengers in a vehicle driven by a teen because it is a matter of safety.

“Teens have the highest crash rates of any group on the road,’’ she said. It is not that they are inherently bad drivers, but “They are inexperienced, and there are developmental and behavioral issues.’’

She said that as a parent of an 18-year-old, she recognizes the issues. “I do clearly see that teens are hard-wired different than adults.

“A teen driver and a passenger, the crash risk doubles,’’ Fischer said.

In addition, she said, the graduated drivers license law already in place is working, and there are fewer accidents and fatalities, she said.

The committee released another bill, A4461, which addresses the increasing problem of distracted driving. The bill specifically prohibits a driver from engaging in any activity, not related to the operation of the vehicle, in a manner that interferes with the safe operation of the vehicle.

The panel released this bill unanimously.

Teen-driver passenger bill held