Can NJ’s Student Drivers Stay Off Their Phones for 6 Hours?
When approaching a student driver on the road, you're probably a bit hesitant as is. Now imagine that student is looking down at a text or answering a call.
It can happen in New Jersey, and has. But driving schools throughout the Garden State have special rules in place to keep their young drivers free of distractions, and alive.
Driving instructors at Skillful Driving School in Lakewood, which handles Monmouth and Ocean counties, have seen plenty of students reach for their phones to handle an incoming call or text message. It's even been seen during the final road test for a license.
"It's an uncontrollable reflex already ingrained and inborn in students," owner Joshua Eidlitz said. "They must pick it up."
But, according to Eidlitz, it's hard to tell students that it's wrong to use a phone while driving when so many people on the road, including many of these students' parents, are breaking the law as well.
At Superior Driving School in Toms River, any temptation is immediately eliminated before a student's six training hours begin. Students cannot have phones on their body or in their pockets. Office manager Bobbie Gilson said devices are usually stowed in a bag, a console or the back seat.
"They don't pay attention," Gilson said of students. "I think they would reach for it; that's why we do this rule."
Student drivers are more distracted these days overall, Gilson said. They don't hold attention like they used to, and she believes it's a product of the "instant gratification" age.
To please this tech-hungry generation, Spicer's Driving School in Roebling lets students check their messages whenever a break is needed for paperwork or other non-driving duties.
"We're literally pulled over with the car shut off at that point," owner Jeffrey Spicer said.
Cell phones are typically not banned altogether in case of emergencies, and to give parents peace of mind.