TRENTON - Two state lawmakers, joined by a group of concerned parents, urged New Jersey's leaders on Tuesday to repeal the part of a safe-driving law that requires provisional license holders under 21 to put decals on their license plates.
The neon, postage-stamp-sized decals will pin a bull's-eye on teenagers' vehicles, making them easy marks for predators, said Sen. Thomas Goodwin (R., Mercer).
The decal requirement targeted by Goodwin and Assemblyman Robert Schroeder (R., Bergen) is a provision of Kyleigh's Law, which aims to increase safety for new drivers.
The law, which took effect in May after passing both houses with little opposition, was named for Kyleigh D'Alessio, a 16-year-old Morris County resident who died in 2006 in a car crash while driving with a provisional driver.
The law forbids probational and permit drivers under 21 from having more than one passenger in their vehicles without a parent or guardian present; prohibits use of wireless communication devices, including hands-free; and rolls curfew up from midnight to 11 p.m.
The decals were added to the law to help police spot young drivers. Schroeder said his proposal will simply do away with the decals.
"We understand the intent of the law and we appreciate it," Schroeder said, "There just has to be a safer approach."
Goodwin said he has received countless phone calls, e-mails and Facebook messages from terrified parents asking to revoke the decals.
Goodwin also is sponsoring a petition to alert legislators to the enormity of New Jersey parents' concern. The petition has more than 4,000 signatures.
Linda Mysantry, an Oceanport resident, said at a morning news conference that her daughter's car was closely followed around her neighborhood's streets late one night.
"She was terrified. No one was home and I wasn't near my cell phone," Mysantry said. "She was heading home, noticing the car was still following her, so she drove past our house and started mazing around the streets, hoping the pursuer would give up. Finally he or she got tired of the game."
Mysantry said her daughter was unable to make out her pursuer's description because it was dark. The only thing that was clearly visible that time of day, she said, was the neon reflecting decal posted on the back of her car.
Charlene McCaffrey, mother of 18-, 19-, 20- and 22-year olds from Williamstown, said she would rather pay the $100 fine than put her children at risk with the $4 decals.
"The way the world is going these days, you may never see your kid again," McCaffrey said. "There are people out there preying on this."
Schroeder said he hopes to get the Senate Transportation Committee to schedule a hearing on the repeal proposal.
"We don't want to be proven right about why the decals are dangerous," he said.