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California teen driving law: no decal, but lots of other mandates

A provisional driver's licensing law for teen motorists has been in force in California for many years, with myriad age- and experience-specific prerequisites (hurdles, if you will) that must be satisfied en route to any teen obtaining a full-privilege license.

Would it help if teen drivers were required to affix decals to their vehicles that readily identified them as novice drivers to police officers and other motorists on the road? More specifically, would reflective fixtures on license plates motivate the state's most inexperienced drivers to act more prudently and with greater focus while behind the wheel?

A media account of such a program long operative in another state indicates that such an initiative might bear fruit wherever it is applied. A study probing the results of New Jersey's decal program notes that crash rates following its implementation have been markedly lower than during a multi-year period preceding its introduction.

A license decal program for novice drivers is of course the prerogative of any state, and New Jersey's decal rule is undoubtedly being examined by traffic officials and safety experts across the country.

As for California, the state has a well-defined and longstanding program that, notwithstanding the absence of a decal requirement, prepares teen motorists to drive carefully through a carefully structured and two-pronged licensing law.

An online informational tract summarizing the material details of California's Graduated Driver License Law describes the basics of what is required of a teen driver in the state as he or she moves through its instruction permit and provisional licensing phase, respectively.

The mandates are far from casual or quickly satisfied. Specified time periods apply, and myriad behind-the-wheel requirements must be satisfied.

And that is all to the good, of course, as virtually every adult driver in the state would agree. Whatever conduces to a safer teen-driver population in California is worth applauding, since the outcome promotes positive traffic outcomes for everyone on the road.

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