As much as it’s easy for non-Jersey folk (and maybe a few Garden State residents) to joke about the official N.J. driving manual not teaching anything beyond better swear words and that turn signals are optional, it is actually a useful document.

Why You Need a NJ Driving Manual

Big Population

There’s a big population, plenty to see and do and all sorts of attractions that can be driven to for work or play. Interstate highways pass through the state as well, so there’s always plenty of traffic heading to and from other Northeast states.

Bad Drivers

Then there’s the state’s reputation at stake as well. From being ranked as having some of the worst drivers and worst roads in a GMAC Insurance survey in 2008, New Jersey zoomed into the Top 5 of safest drivers by state by 2015 in a list by, based on factors such as road conditions, fatal and minor accidents and overall traffic citations. The research still dinged the state for too much texting while driving but the ranking is an improvement, if it doesn’t mean that every other state is simply getting worse.

New NJ Drivers

Whether the reader is a teen trying to learn the correct rules of the road to get their first license, someone who has recently relocated and is in need of a new license or someone wanting to get a refresher as part of a defensive driving course online, the State of New Jersey’s Motor Vehicle Commission wants to make sure everyone knows correct and safe procedures on the state’s 39,000 miles of public roadway.

NJ Driving Manual Top Topics

Different license types

Though people need to go elsewhere or at least find a different manual if they’re seeking a commercial driver’s license or a boating license, the bulk of auto and motorcycle drivers of any age can find information here about the requirements to earn their license. Teens, for instance, can earn a variety of licenses as they progress in experience and age, starting with a special permit, then an examination permit, then a probationary license. Even with the license, they’re still required to have a Graduated decal on their license until they turn 21.

This decal also requires them to only drive with certain adult passengers and not engage in texting or other unsafe behavior. The state also offers a supplemental driver’s guide especially for teen drivers and their parents that focuses more on safety and basic instruction vs. some of the more technical topics of the main manual.

Driver Responsibilities

Drivers will learn some of the important procedures when behind the wheel. Though some of the basic terminology and principles are similar in every state, it shares different items where New Jersey may differ. What do you do at a 4-way uncontrolled stop? What do you do on a one-way road? When do you dim or turn on your bright lights? What do certain signs mean?


Part of learning the right way to do things requires learning how to avoid doing the wrong things. This can include everything from speeding violations to turn signals (not optional!) Law enforcement has a wide discretion on what they write tickets over, but drivers should assume that they could be cited.

The manual can be found online or at any community MVC location through the state. The online version can save someone a trip into town, and can especially be handy for those who want to start their education behind the wheel at home. However, the book is a fairly big download (250MB) so might take a bit of time unless you have a high-speed connection.