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Summer is finally here – which means teens are out of school and looking for summer jobs.  In the spirit of promoting healthy, safe jobs for our future workforce, here’s the question of the season:

Summer_Jobs_picCan teens drive for work?

Many employers, educators, parents, and teens don’t know the answer. In fact, it’s never occurred to many parents that driving on the job would be off limits for licensed teens.

But think about it: Teens have limited experience working and limited experience driving. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in the nation, and an estimated 179,000 U.S. teens are hurt at work every year. It makes sense not to combine two activities that are both new and potentially hazardous.

Because of the risk involved for teen drivers, Massachusetts has a comprehensive Junior Operator’s License (JOL) law and Driver Education Program. For the same reason, protections for teen drivers extend to the workplace.

So back to the question: Can teens drive for work?

Massachusetts child labor laws prohibit driving on the job for anyone under age 18. Teens under age 16 may not ride in or on vehicles at work, except in a passenger seat while wearing a seatbelt.

Summer_Jobs_pic2And the laws go beyond cars and trucks. Another vehicle often asked about is forklifts. Under no circumstance may a minor operate or ride on a forklift due to the dangerous nature of these machines. Other prohibited vehicles include bunker rakes, tractors, utility carts, front-end loaders, and riding mowers (Reel, Rotary and Greens).

What is allowed in Massachusetts?

Teens under age 18 can drive to and from work as long as it’s in accordance with the JOL law: no driving without a guardian between 12:30 and 5:00am—times teens aren’t allowed to work anyway. But once a teen clocks in at work, autos are off limits. Not even driving to or from different work sites.

The only driving-for-work exceptions under the MA child labor laws, for licensed 16- and 17-year-olds, are the operation of golf carts on golf courses, certain tasks in auto repair shops, and the operation of certain vehicles in connection with agricultural work (see below for a link to the laws).

If any of this information is new to you, please spread the word! It’s probably new to others, as well – including those involved in helping teens find jobs this summer.


MA Child Labor Laws Concerning Prohibited Activities

Under Age 16

Under Age 18


Child Labor Laws in Massachusetts Poster

MA Junior Operator License Law

MA Driver Education Program Curriculum



Written By:

Health Communications Specialist in the Occupational Health and Safety Program.

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