In a study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, researchers found that a controversial New Jersey law requiring drivers under 21-years-old to use red decals on their automobile license plates, reduced road accidents among the young drivers by 3,200 following the law's enactment. The numbers reflect a decrease in crashes of 9.5 percent during the first two years after the law was enacted.
The law was added as part of New Jersey's Graduated License laws in 2010, and there was much debate regarding its risks and rewards. Parents and teens feared the plate identification would incite crimes committed against teen drivers.
The study was led by Allison Head Curry, a researcher from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. Similar laws are pending in New York and Massachusetts.
"Decal provisions now have the support of science," said Curry.
Researchers compared documented crash data among NJ teen drivers in the four years prior to the law's enactment with data accumulated in the first two years after. While crash-rates were on the decline before the law passed, but declined even further after the decal law took effect.
Curry commented that there is more that needs to be learned as to how or why the decal use led to fewer accidents. "The end result, however, is that many fewer teens crashed."