Thursday, December 21, 2006, 17 year old Tanner Birch, lost control of his silver Audi TT and crashed into a large tree. The police arrived to find Tanner and rear passenger, Kyleigh D’Alessio, 16, dead at the scene. The other two passengers in the car including Trevor Birch and Kristen Conrad survived the crash. The entire community was devastated as these two young people were active at their school, West Morris Central, and around their community.
After this devastation for both families, Mrs. Weeks, Kyleigh’s mother, was determined to protect the rest of her children as well as all teen drivers. She adamantly pushed legislation for more provisions for teen drivers. Three years later on May 1st 2010 the bills she had been pushing for became law.
However this story took a shift When State Senator Thomas Goodwin first Introduced reversing Kyleigh’s law. Today, State Senator Thomas Goodwin and Assemblyman Robert Schroeder want to call for action on legislation that would repeal Kyleigh’s law decals. Goodwin and Schroeder are the prime sponsors of the bill (S-1908/A-2650) that would immediately retract the new red sticker requirement for teenage drivers.
Both legislators spoke about the danger of red decals to New Jersey teens with provisional licenses. “It’s common sense that making them a target for predators is the wrong way to do that, “ remarks State Senator Thomas Goodwin. Assemblyman Robert Schroeder also speaks out against the new provisions saying, “There are many concerns to the public” He continues with, “I received thousands of emails, just from concerned parents that are afraid that their young drivers are going to fall victims to predators.”
Yet the, sponsor of Kyleigh’s bill, John Wisniewski disagrees with these attacks by stating ”The fact that people are saying that stickers that decals are going to make young drivers targets for predators kind of ignores the reality that windows are transparent and predators can see young drivers right now in the car.” He also states that, “Most predator crimes happen among people who know each other the so call anonymous attacks by the anonymous attacker while I’m not saying it doesn’t happen it is by far the rarity.”
This hot topic is highly debated especially among teens with various facebook groups such as “STOP kyleigh’s law” “Kyleigh’s law is Dangerous for our children;” “Help support kyleigh’s law,” and “Kyleigh’s law- Get the REAL facts- you may be surprised.” Everyone seems to have an opinion for or against the new legislation. Yet through all this conflict no one can dispute that the death’s of teens due to motor vehichal accidents is the main concern of all debates. Tanner and Kyleigh’s memory will live on through their exemplary achievements in sports (lacrosse and Track), academics, and their vibrant personalities that left marks on each that knew them. Hopefully, their story is a lesson to all young individuals to be careful while driving.