by Lydia Seaman and Danny Kuhn
PRO: New drivers in New Jersey with graduated driver licenses are limited to one passenger who is neither a sibling nor a dependent.
This measure is necessary to prevent accidents caused by passenger distractions.
The presence of other passengers in a car with an inexperienced driver can dramatically increase the likelihood of a fatal crash. According to njteendriving.com, by carrying just one additional passenger, the risk for a crash increases by 50 percent. Furthermore, by adding three or more passengers, the risk is nearly four times greater than when driving alone.
Additional passengers can distract drivers by encouraging them to speed and drive recklessly. Such distractions are extremely dangerous because they “take the focus off of the road and lower reaction time,” according to teendriversource.org.
An evaluation conducted by the American Automobile Association found this passenger restriction is associated with about a 24 percent reduction of fatal crashes of teen drivers carrying more than one passenger.
Clearly, this limitation is not there to restrict fun, but to ensure safety on the roads.
CON: There is little question that many teenagers throughout New Jersey, and in our own community at WHS, have broken the law by having more than one passenger in their cars at some point or another. While this law was created with the best of intentions, it should ultimately be the responsibility of drivers to recognize when they are being distracted by their passengers.
First, the law is a detriment to the environment. According to rideshare.com, the average car emits 10,000 pounds of carbon dioxide annually. Teenagers who could carpool must take separate cars instead, resulting in more harmful emissions.
Additionally, this law creates a great inconvenience when it comes to parking and traffic at WHS. After school traffic is hectic, and the parking lot is full of cars because carpooling is prohibited by the law.
Yes, distractions on the road are dangerous; however, the rigidity of this law creates a potential safety hazard. Drivers should never feel that they have to leave someone behind in an unsafe situation. Ultimately, drivers should have the freedom to police themselves.