Legitimacy of Kyleigh’s Law


Christopher Issa, Writer

Kyleigh’s Law states that any driver under the age of  21 who holds a permit or probationary (formerly provisional) driver’s license must display a $4 pair of decals on the top left corner of the front and rear license plates of their vehicles. The decal tells police that a vehicle is being driven by a young adult, who is subject to the restrictions of the state’s graduated driver’s license program. Those restrictions include curfews and limits on the number of passengers allowed in a vehicle. According to the article “Study Reignites Debate Over NJ Teen Driver Decal,” people such as Attorney Gregg Trautmann and many parents believe that the decals are a violation of privacy and pave the way for the police to profile young drivers. Many parents are concerned that potential predators could follow their children due to the decals. According to Trautmann, “They assume the lower rate of violations or and accidents is due to the decals. But when I don’t see the decals displayed on cars, how can you correlate them to a lower rate? People are not being cited. This law isn’t being enforced except in the case of an accident.”

A CHOP study credits the law with preventing more than 3,100 crashes of young drivers in New Jersey over the two year period. The CHOP study also stated that the most dramatic effects were crash rates dropping 13% for 18-year-old drivers and 17% for 19-year-old drivers.

However, Steve Carrellas, a state chapter coordinator for the National Motorists Association questioned the objectivity of the study because it was underwritten by an insurance company. He asserts that “A study isn’t going to change the minds of those who were that opposed to the decals. Could it be that teen drivers are improving in response to the more fundamental provisions of the GDL law?” Trautmann adds that “It (federal driver privacy protection act) says state motor vehicle departments can’t give out personal identification information of people to just anyone. Our contention is that the state law requires young people to identify themselves as being in an age group, which violates their right to privacy.”

This issue frustrates both parents and government officials. On one hand there is concern for the safety and well-being of teenagers while driving; on the other hand, there is also concern for the privacy of those same teenagers. As difficult as it might be, both government officials and parents are trying to find a balance that will not only keep young drivers safe driving on the road, but also not compromise the relative safety of their privacy either.