Effectiveness of Kyleigh’s Law Questioned After Deadly Accident

It was supposed to reduce the number of New Jersey teenagers involved in car accidents, but after another fatal weekend crash, Kyleigh's Law may come under review.

In 2006, 16-year-old Kyleigh D'Alessio was killed while riding in a vehicle driven by another teenager. After D'Alessio's death, her mother, Donna Weeks, worked tirelessly to get New Jersey to adopt the first teen driver decal program in the United States. In 2009, her work paid off: Kyleigh's Law was created in tandem with the graduated driver license (GDL) program. The requirements of these programs include:

  • Red decals on license plates of permit and provisional drivers under age 21
  • One passenger allowed in vehicle at all times with the exception of a parent
  • No use of cell phones or hands-free devices
  • Nighttime curfew of 11:00 p.m.

Though intentions of the laws were commendable, some question whether they are effective. Informal surveys have shown as many as 90 percent of high school students are disregarding Kyleigh's Law and not attaching decals to their license plates. Further, deadly crashes involving young people continue to occur. A recent example is the August 2011 accident that killed four students.

Under the law, Casey Brenner, a 17-year-old, was allowed only one passenger in the vehicle. But on a Saturday, seven other teenagers piled into Brenner's SUV and headed down the Garden State Parkway. Unfortunately, their trip ended before they reached their destination and four, including Brenner, were killed.

As a result of the accident, Assemblyman John Amodeo (R-Atlantic) believes a legislative review of the law is in order. John Wisniewski, Assembly Transportation Committee Chairman and sponsor of the GDL program, is waiting for all the facts from the accident before calling for a review or considering amendments to the law. Before embarking on a legislative course of action, however, Wisniewski wants to explore the effectiveness of the law's enforcement and whether enough public information has been disseminated.