The younger tech-savvy generations may fall in love with the newest addition to the Massachusetts RMV site: on-line driver’s exam scheduling. Until last week teenagers were only able schedule a driver’s exam by calling the RMV hot line. These calls annually number approximately 260,000 and greatly slowed the routing of other call-center customers.
Hopeful teen drivers can pay the $20 exam fee while registering and, if they’re feeling confident, the $50 licensing fee eliminating another trip to a Registry branch once they’ve passed the exam. If paid for through the website the teenager’s licnese will be sent through the mail with the learners permit photo. During a two week test period almost 900 permit holders successfully scheduled their driving examinations!
Drivers license exams were previously administered by State Police troopers and as of two years ago are now handled by Registry examiners. About 2,500 road tests are given a week through the 29 Massachusetts examination locations. Serving more than 4.6 million drivers the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles will be able to better service drivers as those scheduling examinations begin to navigate to the website rather than phone hot line.
To schedule a driver’s examination online visit the Massachusetts Department of Transportation site here.
Massachusetts State Police collaborated with the Northwester District Attorney’s Office and several local police departments this past May to host a training exercise at the Hampshire Regional High School in Westhampton. Using physics and mechanics officers taught teenagers about driving accidents and the consequences of driver’s actions.
Officers used a new teaching aid called the “Crash – The Science of Collisions” using what the teenagers have and will be learning in their physics classes. While teaching teenage drivers about the physics behind a crash, officers taught students about the cause and effect of driver’s actions. Troopers from the State Police Collision Analysis Reconstruction Section replicated characteristics of an accident in the Hampshire Regional High parking lot. From the staged crash statistics were given for students to analyze and evaluate.
The motivation behind this exercise was to raise awareness levels to decrease the number of future crashed by teen drivers. The hope is with this training & realization of the physics and mechanics behind a crash, students will be more safe and aware drivers.
According to the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety & Security other participants included: Northwestern District Attorney Elizabeth Scheibel and Assistant District Attorney Curtis Frick; Westhampton Police Chief David White and Sergeant Floyd Fisher; Williamsburg Police Acting Chief Denise Wickland; Goshen Police Chief Jeffrey Hewes; Chesterfield Police Corporal Aimee Wallace; and Southampton Police Officer Scott Gove.
When a teenager brings home their driving learner’s permit there are mixed feelings felt throughout the household. Teenagers ecstatic, their freedom and independence from mom and dad has become a reality. Parents on the other hand need to think about their child – and possibly vehicle’s – safety, insurance, a new/ used or shared vehicle, and new rules. Before a teenager is licensed it’s important to know about insurance needs and teenage driving laws. Read the following bullets for a good overview of what you need to know concerning teen drivers & insurance:
Be prepared to insure your teenager: Massachusetts requires, by law, that once your teenager earns their licnese and is living in the same household you must add them to your policy. This is something you should talk to your auto insurance agent about when your teenager earns their learner’s permit.
For the lucky ones – choosing a vehicle: Know when purchasing a vehicle for your teen you need to focus on not only how much it will cost to insure, but it’s safety as well. An article by the Milford Daily News pointed out that SUVs have a higher roll over rate as they have a higher center of gravity. The article explained that the size of an SUV may give teenagers a false sense of security although they are more prone to roll overs. Smaller vehicles, such as a two door coupe, carry the risk of more serious injuries and fatalities. Researching crash test results, safety reviews, and road tests will help you determine what vehicle is right for your teenager.
Know your premium will go up: Auto insurance premiums depend on a number of factors including: year, make and model of the insured vehicle, number of years licensed, zip code/ location, etcetera. Be prepared to pay an extra premium as teenage drivers are a higher risk to insure and can be costly when adding to a policy.
Be aware of Massachusetts learner’s permit laws: If your teenager is younger than 18 years they will be driving with a Junior Permit. For the first six months of driving your teenager may not drive friends unless a licensed driver of 21 years or more is in the front passenger seat. Until age 18 your teenager is restricted from driving between 12:30 and 5a.m. unless with a guardian. On the first offense violating this curfew a teenager will face a $100 fine and 60- day license suspension. Speeding is another great concern for teen drivers thus Massachusetts has imposed strict laws with serious consequences if caught speeding on a junior licnese. When a teenager receives his or her first speeding ticket they will face: a 90 day licnese suspension, $50 licnese reinstatement fee, required to take a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course and State Courts Against Road Rage course (costing approximately $75 each), and must pass the learner’s permit exam and road exam.
Advanced driving courses = benefits: Advanced driving courses, although not required to gain or maintain a licnese, these courses give young drivers better knowledge of what to be aware of while driving. Additionally, various auto insurance carriers will give discounts to those who have completed an advanced driving course.
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.
When a teenager first learns to drive it can be just as nerve wrecking for parents as the new driver. Some parents are terrified for their son or daughter’s safety driving on the road, others should be more worried about their child’s parallel parking. When readying your teenager for their drivers test it’s important to have more than a few lessons to practice the necessary skills.
For the first couple lessons find a location without many cars, light posts or other obstacles – like a vacant parking lot. When your teen sits behind the wheel be sure to give precise and simple instructions far enough ahead of time they will be able to safely respond. Also avoid overloading your new driver with too much information. Allow enough time for your son or daughter to absorb information in segmented lessons. Teaching ninety degree turns, parallel parking, lane changes, and driving in reverse all in the same day will most likely confuse and stress your teen. Give one lesson on each driving skill, and keep practicing until they feel comfortable with each of the skills.
Above all set an example for your new teen driver:
If you run red and yellow lights, speed down the highway at 75 MPH, weave in and out of traffic, take chances on the road, ride the bumper of the car in front of you, scream at other drivers, or exhibit other signs of road rage, you’re showing your teen that the rules don’t count—and this can be fatal. – teendriving.com
Although teaching a new driver can be nerve wrecking, it can also be rewarding. When your teenager passes his or her driver’s exam he or she will see it as an entryway to adulthood. With a license it’s important to remind them driving comes with responsibility, and your trust. If your teen exhibits responsible driving reward them. If your teen exhibits dangerous and/or unlawful driving, you will need to negotiate their driving terms. As a parent you have the ultimate say in your child’s driving, ensure they can handle their new responsibility before handing over the car keys.
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in U.S. teens today. According to the CDC in 2007 more than 4,200 teens ages 15 – 19 were killd and over 40,000 teens were treated in the emergency room due to auto accidents. Teens most at risk of being involved in an accident include: males, teen drivers with teen passangers, and newly licensed.
Most parents recognize the dangers new teen drivers face and take preventative measures to ensure their safety. Some parents don’t allow their children to drive past dark or drive with passangers. Other parents may enroll their teen in a Graduated Driver Licensing Course. This course allows the teen to earn a permit, then a drivers license temporarily restricting unsupervised driving, and lastly a full license. Although every parent will take different measures to protect their newly licensed teen, any form of guidance and training may just save their life.