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New Jersey Looks to Pass Strict Teen Driver Safety Law
The New Jersey Assembly is considering a bill that would place stricter requirements on teenage drivers and their parents. The Assembly Transportation committee advanced Assembly Bill 3309, sponsored by John Wisniewski and Pamela Lampitt, in late November 2011 according to The Star-Ledger of Newark.
Under the proposed legislation, parents of teens with a learner’s permit would have to participate in a mandatory teen driver orientation course. The teenage drivers would be required to practice driving for up to 100 hours. Parents or supervising adult drivers would log the practice-driving hours on an honor system.
Proponents of the bill have stressed the importance of requiring more parental involvement in the process. Pam Fischer, head of the New Jersey Teen Safe Driving Coalition, told The Star-Ledger that “teens whose parents set rules and monitor their activities in a helpful and supportive way are half as likely to crash, 71 percent less likely to drive intoxicated and 30 percent less likely to use a cell phone while driving.”
If passed, the bill would extend the length of the learner’s permit phase from a minimum of six months to one year; it would be one of the strictest teen driver safety laws in the country.
“Recognizing that no other age group on the road has a higher crash risk, lengthening the permit phase from a minimum of six months to 12 month will give teens the opportunity to practice driving over a longer period of time—which is critical,” said Fischer.
The proposed law would build on previous teen-driver safety laws passed by the state. In 2010, New Jersey enacted Kyleigh’s Law requiring drivers under 18 to display a decal on the front and rear license plates of their car.
The Massachusetts Association of Realtors reported a 3 percent increase over the previous year in the number of Massachusetts single-family homes sold during October 2011. This marked the fourth straight month in which sales had increased year over year. According to The Boston Globe, the median selling price decreased by 5.2 percent. The median price was $275,000 in October 2011, a decrease from the $290,000 median price in 2010.
The U.S. Department of Transportation will send funds to Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont to help with storm-related road repairs, according to The Associated Press. Vermont will receive more than $15.3 million, Maine will receive $755,400 and New Hampshire will receive $132,000. The money will go toward fixing road and bridge damage caused by flooding and the effects of Hurricane Irene.
Maine’s Streamline and Prioritize Core Government Services Task Force agreed to a series of cuts designed to reduce the state’s $25 million budget shortfall in 2012-13. The legislature must approve the proposed cuts, which will be subject to public hearings, the Bangor Daily News reported. Among the suggested cuts is a 20 percent decrease in funding for school-based health centers and a $3.1 million reduction in reimbursements to acute care hospitals for outpatient services.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation in November withdrew its federal application seeking permission to raise money for road and bridge repairs by selling ads on electronic message signs. The state had filed a request in April 2010 jointly with Florida and California. The Tribune-Review in Pittsburghreported the state withdrew its application due to concerns that the signs would be distracting to drivers.
Rhode Island has gained approval for two pilot programs to aid the chronically ill, according to The Providence Journal. The state’s Medicaid program will receive $28.8 million over two years to help both people with chronic mental illness and children with special needs who depend on Medicaid. With the additional funds, the state will not face the possibility of heavy Medicaid cuts.