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teen-driver-safety-week-1As the leading auto insurer in Massachusetts, MAPFRE Insurance has been dedicated to driver safety since it was founded in 1972, and we continue to offer support for our state residents and families.

According to IIHS, there were 35,092 deaths in 2015 alone due to motor vehicle crashes in the U.S., and teen drivers between the ages of 16-19 are three times more likely to be in a fatal crash than drivers 20 years of age and older. The benefits of continuing safety education helps remind drivers, especially teens, to be aware when they are on the road.

There are three major ways drivers can become distracted, with teens being most at risk due to their lack of experience and maturity. Constantly reviewing common distractions with them can help facilitate better decision making when behind the wheel. In support of National Teen Driver Safety Week occurring October 15th to the 21st, MAPFRE Insurance wants to remind parents and their teen drivers of a few key ways to avoid distracted driving, and how best to prepare for seasonal road challenges in the upcoming months.

Eyes

Even the most experienced driver can get visually distracted from time to time by things like fall foliage scenery or even Halloween decorations, but teens are far more susceptible due to their lack of maturity. Additionally, technology inside the car such as electronic devices, the radio, and other dashboard accessories can be very distracting as well. Taking one’s eyes off the road for even a second impedes the driver’s reaction time needed to avoid oncoming obstacles or changes in traffic patterns. Although cars and pedestrians are the most common obstacles, deer can be extremely dangerous, and potentially fatal, as well. Autumn is a time for increased deer activity, so it is even more important to stay alert on quiet roads never assuming that it is clear to look away. Instead, wait until you reach a full stop to make any quick adjustment or pull off to the side of the road if needed. Texting while driving is illegal for all ages in the state of Massachusetts whether the car is in motion or at a traffic stop; a driver should wait until they reach their destination to respond.

Hands

Teen drivers under the age of 18 in Massachusetts, by law, are not allowed to operate any mobile electronic device while driving including traffic stops. The Safe Driving Law prohibits the use of any mobile telephone, hand held or “hands-free,” by teen drivers as well. Additionally, receiving visual or audio calls, messaging, adjusting music or GPS applications, accessing the internet, taking pictures, etc. is forbidden. Any time a driver takes a hand off the steering wheel to adjust car settings, change the radio, eat, or look for something means the focus shifts away from driving and to the other activity even if one’s eyes remain on the road. Additionally, a driver has much more stability with both hands on the wheel which is important in the event tires lose any traction and the car begins to slide. During this season, and heading into the colder months, wet piles of leaves as well as frost patches on the side of the road often go unnoticed, but can pose a threat to drivers.

Minds

Arguably the hardest distraction to control, especially with your teen, is their own thought processes taking place while they are driving. Teens have a lot going on, and between the stress of school, friends, sports, and work, your teen might not always remember or be able to silence the noise and focus their full attention on driving. When a driver is lost in thought, or tired, they might not pay attention to their speed, and increased speed means less time a driver has to react. As a parent, make sure your teen is awake and alert in the morning before you let them drive to school and remind them to be careful of morning fog that is common during this time of year. Teens should start working on being self aware by checking their emotions before they hit the road and practice safe driving techniques like turning the music down, limiting the number of passengers, and never driving when tired or intoxicated.

Here at MAPFRE Insurance we understand the importance of road safety which is why we are proud to sponsor the Massachusetts DOT Highway Assistance Program. We hope you enjoy the change of season, and keep in mind these safe driving practices during National Teen Driver Safety Week as well as throughout the year.

Written By Patrick McDonald, CPCU, AIM, AIS, Executive Vice President – Business & Clients, MAPFRE  Insurance

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