There are nearly 6.4 million licensed drivers driving an average of 12,000 miles per year on 39,000 miles of roadways in the most densely populated state of New Jersey.

New drivers, however, are put into that mix with little to no real roadway driving experience.

Under current law, New Jersey does not require any supervised hours of driving to obtain a license. Only two other states, Arkansas and Mississippi, do not require practice hours.

A coalition of driver advocates, safety groups and insurance companies are trying to pressure the legislature to changes that.

Senate bill 2789 would require drivers under the age of 21 to complete at least 50 hours of supervised driving before New Jersey would issue a license.

The group 'Partners for Practice Hours' notes that while the Garden State has very strict rules for obtaining a commercial drivers license (CDL), there is a "gaping hole" when it comes to general licensing.

AAA is among the group's members, and a spokeswoman says teen crashes are rising "at an alarming rate." They claim this legislation would give teens the experience they need to be safer drivers.

The latest figures from the New Jersey Department of Transportation do show a sharp increase in crashes involving young drivers. In 2020, there were 28,000 accidents involving drivers under the age of 21.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates adding the 50-hour requirement could reduce that number by 13%.

Drivers would have six months from the issue of a learners permit to complete the supervised driving requirement with another driver who is at least 21 and has three years of driving experience.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Gordon Johnson, D-Bergen, and has been referred to the Senate Transportation Committee. No hearing has been scheduled.

An identical bill (A3793) has been sponsored in the Assembly by Daniel Benson, D-Hamilton, and referred to committee.

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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