WEST ORANGE, NJ - Nikhil's Law (Bill A-1781) is on the road to reality with a June 5 unanimous release by the Assembly Law and Public Safety Committee. The law would require that the Motor Vehicle Commission inform and test new drivers on the dangers of failing to comply with traffic safety laws and provide the opportunity to take the "STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge."

Assembly Democrats John McKeon (D-Essex/Morris), Charles Mainor (D-Hudson), and Mila Jasey (D-Essex/Morris) sponsored Bill A-1781, which was originally introduced in January and would require the commissioner of motor vehicles to expand driver's license examinations to include a question asking whether the applicant is aware of the dangers of failing to follow the state’s motor vehicle traffic laws and whether they are aware that they have the option to take the STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge. The bill's purpose is to underscore the importance of following the state’s motor vehicle traffic laws to new drivers.

The bill is named Nikhil’s Law in honor of Nikhil Badlani of West Orange, an 11-year old honor student and aspiring musician who was tragically killed in a motor vehicle accident on June 11, 2011, involving a driver who ran a stop sign. Nikhil’s father, Sunil, who was injured in the crash, spoke in favor of the bill on Thursday.

“This is a simple step we can take to emphasize to our young people that driving comes with responsibility,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “The more we can emphasize that point, hopefully the more our young drivers will put safety first and we can save lives.”

“Driving is a big responsibility,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Emphasizing the need for safety is always a good thing. There is never a downside to emphasizing safety.” Mainor is the chairperson of the Assembly Law and Public Safety Commission.

The STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge is as follows:

“In order to ensure the safety of others on the road, passengers in my car, and myself as a driver, I pledge to obey traffic laws while operating a motor vehicle, be extra cautious, and be attentive to traffic signs and signals and road conditions.  Specifically:

“I will come to a  complete stop at every “stop” sign or red traffic light, and will not proceed through a red traffic light;

“I will stay alert, keep two hands on the steering wheel whenever possible, and keep my mind on the road;

“I will talk safely by using a hands-free wireless telephone while driving if I am of lawful age to do so and refrain from texting while driving; and

“I will plan ahead and leave enough time to arrive at my destination.”

The bill would also require the Motor Vehicle Commissioner, in consultation with the Nikhil Badlani Foundation, to include information in the driver’s manual explaining the dangers of failing to follow the state’s motor vehicle traffic laws. This information must provide interested drivers with instructions on how to take the “STOP for Nikhil Safety Pledge.”

The bill also requires the MVC to ensure that drivers have the option of taking the pledge by filling out a standard form made available at motor vehicle offices. Instructions on directing interested drivers to a website to take the pledge online would also be provided. 

To read proposed bill A-1781, go to: http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2014/Bills/A2000/1781_I1.HTM.

For more information go to: http://legiscan.com/NJ/bill/A1781/2014.