Did you know that summer is the most dangerous time of year for teens to be on the road? According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the days between Memorial Day and Labor Day are the deadliest for drivers between ages 15-20. It makes sense, less time in school, more time for parties, going to the beach, road trips, and endless other places to drive to during the summer season. Don’t let your teen become another statistic, share these safety tips with them and help them practice safe driving this summer! Remember to set a good example as well, teens pick up habits from other drivers that they observe and you don’t want them to think it’s ok to send a quick text or ditch their seat belt just because they’re going somewhere close. These tips may seem like common sense to some, but new drivers don’t have as much experience behind the wheel and may not consider things that drivers with a little more experience would consider obvious.
Click it or ticket! Wearing your seat belt is not only a good idea, but it’s also the law here in Massachusetts. New drivers may think it’s no big deal to hop in the car and ride down the street to the store without their seat belt just because it’s close, but accidents can happen anywhere. Make sure your teen knows just how important it is to wear your seat belt. Did you know that drivers and passengers increase their risk of injury or death by up to 50% by not wearing a safety belt? Those are odds you don’t want to gamble with so remind your teen of the importance of their seat belt and set a good example when you’re driving as well!
Talk To Your Teen About Car Maintenance – Again, some things that may seem obvious to experienced drivers may not be so clear to teens. Make sure your teen knows how to check their tire pressure, put air in the tires, knows how often they need an oil change and tire rotation, and knows how to check and replace the car’s fluids. A problem as small as low tire pressure can cause the car to handle differently, and may even potentially lead to an accident. Make sure your teen knows exactly what to look for when it comes to their car.
Understand the Dangers of Distracted Driving – Although teens are the least experienced drivers on the road, they are typically the most likely to use their cell phones when behind the wheel. Averting your eyes from the road for even five seconds, or the amount of time it takes to send a quick text, can lead to a major accident. Even having too many passengers in a car can be a major distraction, paying attention to friends, music, and the road all at the same time is difficult for any driver, but especially those with little experience. If your teen still has their junior operator license, make sure they are following the rules and regulations that go along with that, which can be found here.
Communicate the Danger of Drinking And Driving – Again, this may seem obvious but it’s still a good idea to sit down with your teen and make sure they understand exactly how important this is. Underage drinking continues to be an issue and although there are attempts to crack down on it, teens still find access to alcohol and it’s important that parents communicate how dangerous and deadly drinking and driving can be. Make sure your teen knows not to drive themselves, or get into the car with anyone that has had a drink.
Limit Unnecessary Trips – Unless your teen has a purpose for their outing, they shouldn’t be going out “just for a drive”. The less time they spend on the road, the less likely they are to be in an accident.
Make Sure Your Teen Knows Where They Are Going – If your teen is taking a trip to the beach or a concert, make sure they know exactly how to get there to prevent getting lost. If their destination is nearby, take a test drive out there with them and make sure they know exactly where they’re going. If their destination is too far for a convenient test drive, make sure they have a GPS system, and fully charged cell phone to use in case of emergency.
These tips will help your teen make smart decisions and stay safe on the road this summer. Make sure they understand how important it is for them to give the road their undivided attention, distractions while driving have caused fatal accidents in the past, and the sad thing is that they are typically preventable. The sooner your teen understands these tips, the safer they will be!
Back to school season is here! You know what that means? More school buses, student drivers, and school zone speed traps to look out for. In case you need a refresher course on some of the rules of the road we’ve listed a few below, pay close attention, you never know when there might be a pop quiz!
School Zones always come up quickly and it’s important to slow down and follow the speed limit for the safety of the nearby students as well as yourself. Don’t forget:
The speed limit in a school zone is 20 MPH.
School zones have a sign with the posted speed limit and either flashing lights during the hours that the speed limit is in effect, or will state those hours on the school zone sign itself.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for crossing guards or any nearby children that are walking or riding bikes.
Now that students are back in school, school buses are back on the road! Bet you missed seeing them on your morning commute right? Similar to fire trucks, there are a few specific laws that apply to these vehicles while driving:
You must keep a distance of 100 feet between your car and a school bus.
You must come to a complete stop behind the bus if the red lights are flashing and the stop sign is extended, regardless of what side of the road you are on. This is so students entering and exiting the bus can safely cross to either side of the street. You must remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the stop sign folds back.
A first violation of this law can lead to a license suspension and a fine of $250, so pay attention and keep your distance!
There are a few other laws that we wanted to point out that are good to remember especially when there are more students on the roads:
It is state law to yield to pedestrians at cross walks, whether they are already crossing or waiting to cross.
Drivers under the age of 18 (students, that means you!) are prohibited from using any and all mobile devices while driving, the only exception is to report an emergency.
Junior operators (drivers between the ages of 16 1/2 and 18 who have had their license for less than 6 months) are prohibited from driving between the hours of 12:30 AM – 5:00 AM unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.
Junior operators are prohibited from carrying passengers under the age of 18 (except for siblings) for the first 6 months of driving, this is an attempt to minimize distractions.
These are some of the most important rules to remember, especially now that students are back on the road! Keep these laws in mind next time you are driving through a school zone, at a crosswalk, or behind a school bus. Although these laws may slow us down at times, they save lives and benefit the students as well as the drivers! Don’t forget to make sure you are properly insured! Contact us at MassDrive for a quote and ask our reps about the different types of coverage you would need to make sure you are totally covered in case of an accident!
Fatal accidents involving teenagers under 18 years of age has fallen 75% in the past three years after Massachusetts began implementing the Junior Operation License Law creating harsher penalties for younger drivers and making it more difficult to obtain a license. These added difficulties and punishments junior operators face have not only driven down fatalities, but speeding tickets as well. The number of speeding tickets young drivers under 18 has fallen almost 60% in the past three years. According to an article in The Boston Globe, the number of teens cited for seat-belt violations, passenger restrictions, and other offenses has fallen at a similar rate as the speeding ticket decrease.
These numbers are welcomed graciously as motor vehicle accidents is the number one killer of teens in the nation. According to the Massachusetts RMV website new drivers are four times more likely to be killed and 14 times more likely to be injured in an accident than any other group. The tougher laws and testing are key efforts used to keep these high risk drivers from being involved in an accident, injured, or killed.
Massachusetts officials believe the decreasing fatalities may be accredited to the Junior Operator License Law passed in 2006 after a number of highly publicized fatalities involving junior operators or drivers under 18 years. The stricter laws took effect March 31st, 2007 increasing driver’s education requirements and penalties for violations junior operators.
A great example of just how firm these new laws are would be the consequences a junior operators experiences after their first speeding ticket. Under old legislation a young driver would be given a fine and slap on the wrist, however the newer 2006 legislation goes much further. Now a junior operator first time ticketed speeder will have his or her license suspended for 90 days. After a three month suspension the teenager must pay a $500 reinstatement fee, attend two four-hour training classes, and retake the state driver’s exam to regain a license. The newer laws have also doubled the time spent behind-the-wheel in driver’s education from six to twelve hours. It has also increased the supervised driving time from 12 to 40 hours teens must accumulate before seeking a license.
“As governor and as a parent I am happy to see that we are creating safer streets and better driving habits among our young drivers. Our number one priority is protecting the safety of the traveling public, and our successful implementation of the Junior Operator License Law is clearly reducing teen driver crashes and saving lives.’’
-Governor Deval Patrick
Patrick has earned bragging rights, from merely glancing over the decreasing number of tickets, violations and accidents involving junior operators since the new legislation. Massachusetts for years averaged two or more fatal accidents a month involving these young drivers, with over 79 in the three years prior to the new stricter legislation taking effect. The following year there were 20, the year after that 15, ans six over the last year. Speeding tickets were greatly reduced as well. The year prior to the Junior Operator License Law enactment, Massachusetts junior drivers received 10,127 tickets. This number has dropped drastically to 4,291 tickets from March 31, 2009 through March 30, 2010. Although it the consequences of young adult driving are harsh, our roads have been made a safer place.