by Sharlyn Petit
A proposed bill would require all Washington drivers under age 19 to display a “new driver” decal on their rear window any time they’re behind the wheel.
The goal of the decals is to alert other motorists that inexperienced drivers are sharing the roadway and to keep a safe distance. Liken the decals to those triangle “Drivers Ed” signs, or bright cars covered with driving school logos. Do you drive differently around those vehicles?
New Jersey implemented a similar program in 2010. (Note red license tab in photo.) Researchers from Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia credit the decal law with a 9.5% drop in the teen driver crash rate from 2010 to 2012, but the law isn’t free of ongoing criticism. New Jersey parents express concerns that the decals violate teens’ right to privacy and may make teens targets for law enforcement, predators, or stalkers.
The Washington measure is sponsored by Rep. Liz Pike, R-Camas, and is supported by the Department of Licensing and Washington Traffic Safety Commission. Pike told the Tacoma News Tribune, “It makes the rest of us be more defensive for them since they don’t always show the best judgment.”
Teen drivers would receive the decal from the Department of Licensing at the time they apply for an instruction permit, intermediate license, or driver’s license. Failure to display the decal could result in a fine up to $250.
What do you think of this driving safety act?
Read more in the News Tribune story here.