A bill passed by the NJ State Legislature was not signed into law by Governor Chris Christie. The bill would have required teen drivers to spend more practice time behind the wheel and required parents to take a graduated driver's license orientation course with their teenagers. The bill was a great step toward trying to slow down the rate of deaths and personal injury resulting to teens in NJ from unsafe driving.
Bill Tries to Slow Down Increase In Teen Accidents and Fatalaties
The State reported that 2011 traffic fatalities for teenagers increased in crashes last year than in 2010. Christie "pocket vetoed" the proposed bill, which means the bill expired at the end of the legislative session with no action at all from the governor.
Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak tried to explain the governor's actions stating: "We did have some concerns about the scope of issues arising from the new requirements and insufficient time to review all those consequences, or unintended consequences, before today's deadline."
The bill followed one of the 14 key recommendations made in the March 2008 Teen Driving Commission's report for increasing teen driver safety. The bill proposed that a driver with a learner's permit under age 21 who has completed a six-hour behind-the-wheel driver's education course would have to do 50 hours of practice driving over a one-year period, which would have to be certified by a parent or guardian.
"It's very frustrating," said Pam Fischer, who chaired the state Teen Driving Commission. Ms. Fischer further commented: "It's a tough day and we'll go back and keep at it."
The veto comes as Fischer said she learned from a State Police report that the number of teenage drivers and passengers killed in traffic accidents in 2011 increased to 50 from 33 in 2010. These statistics only include deaths and do not include the serious personal injury resulting to our teens from accidents in New Jersey.
It is a shame that the Governor pocket vetoed this bill. Continued training and the involvements of parents or guardians in teen instruction can only increase to safety on our roads for everyone and especially our children. To lose 50 teens in 2011 is way too many tragedies. NJ has some of the most dangerous roads in the nation because we have without question the most congested roads.