“Nikhil’s Law” to Emphasize Traffic Safety to Young Drivers Officially Becomes a Law
RANDOLPH, NJ – A little more than four years after 11-year-old Nikhil Badlani of West Orange was killed in 2011 by a distracted driver who ran a stop sign, “Nikhil’s Law” was signed into law by Gov. Kim Guadagno on Aug. 4, in Randolph, NJ. The goal of the law is to hopefully prevent something similar from happening to someone else in the future.
“While no one gets behind the wheel and says, ‘I want to kill someone,” said Nikhil’s father, Sunil Badlani at the press conference, “the minute you drop your guard and drive distracted, a killer you become.”
“Like the Badlani family, I wish I didn’t need to be here today,” said Guadagno. “We all wish we could prevent every car accident, every serious injury, every fatality. We know that we can’t, but that doesn’t mean we won’t try. A moment of caution can make all the difference. This bill will send Nikhil’s message to not just our youngest drivers, but all of our drivers. And, hopefully, the Badlanis’ tragedy will help prevent other families from enduring such hardships.”
The law (A-1781), which was sponsored by Assembly Democrats John McKeon, Charles Mainor, Mila Jasey, Benjie Wimberly and Shavonda Sumter, and unanimously passed through the state Assembly and Senate, requires the Motor Vehicle Commission (MVC) to expand the driver’s license examination to include a question asking applicants whether they are aware of the dangers of failing to follow the state’s motor vehicle traffic laws and whether know that they have the option to take the “STOP for Nikhil” safety pledge.
“For every young person, becoming a licensed driver is a major milestone that warrants celebration, but it also demands a greater sense of awareness of how one’s actions can affect others,” said Jasey (D-Essex/Morris). “This will remind new drivers that they have a duty to follow the rules of the road and exercise greater vigilance when they’re behind the wheel.”
“Having seen so much potential in so many young people as a teacher, a father and a football coach, knowing that Nikhil’s family and the West Orange community lost a child with great promise in this tragic way just breaks my heart,” said Wimberly (D-Bergen/Passaic). “For the safety of individual drivers as well as entire neighborhoods across New Jersey, it’s critical that we take the time to educate our youth on traffic safety.”
“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 highlight that point, hopefully the more our young drivers will put safety first.”
“Driving is a big responsibility,” said Mainor (D-Hudson). “Emphasizing the need for safety is always a good thing.”