A large majority of driver’s license suspensions in New Jersey have nothing to do with traffic safety, study finds

The findings, which will be published in the Journal of Transport & Health’s December issue, found more than 90% of suspensions in the Garden State are actually not related to traffic safety.

Suspensions are often more a result of other non-driving-related offenses, including failure to pay a fine or appear in court, the study suggests.

Using licensing information from the New Jersey Safety and Health Outcomes, researchers at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and Brown University compared the characteristics of “suspended drivers, their residential census tract, as well as access to public transportation and jobs, by reason for the suspension (driving or non-driving related)” from 2004 to 2018.

The study found that 5.5% of New Jersey drivers had a suspended license in 2018– 91% of those suspensions had nothing to do with traffic safety.

Researchers also found that driver’s license suspensions were most common in low-income communities and communities with a larger percentage of Black and Hispanic residents in the state.

More specifically, non-driving-related suspensions were seven times greater in the lowest income neighborhoods compared to high income neighborhoods and five times greater in neighborhoods with the highest proportion of Black and Hispanic residents.

“What is particularly concerning is that the communities most burdened by license suspensions are already facing heightened barriers to employment and healthcare,” said Allison E. Curry, PhD, MPH, senior co-author of the study.

The American Hospital Association estimates that 3.6 million Americans miss or delay healthcare each year because of transportation barriers, resulting in “delayed health care appointments, increased health expenditures and overall poorer health outcomes. Transportation also can be a vehicle for wellness.”

“We’re also conducting a complementary study to learn firsthand from individuals whose licenses were suspended about how this transportation barrier affects their health and well-being,” Curry added.

Failure to pay a fine or fee was the most common reason for a suspension across all the years that the researchers examined.

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