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The Executive Office of Public Safety and Security (EOPSS) in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation Registry of Motor Vehicles (RMV) today unveiled an educational video for parents to help them prepare their teens to become safe, smart drivers.

 “Tips for Parents, A Common Sense Guide to Keeping Your Teen Safe Behind The Wheel, includes solemn words from the parents of a teen killed in a crash and will be provided to driver education schools to be shown at the required class for parents and caregivers of young people getting their Junior Operator’s License. Motor vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens in the nation, with inexperience cited as the leading cause. Crash rates are highest among teens during their first few hundred miles on the road; new drivers are four times more likely to be killed and 14 times more likely to be injured than any other group.

“Parents and caregivers are important partners in ensuring the safety of new drivers,” said Registrar of Motor Vehicles Erin Deveney. “This video highlights the specific steps they can take to support what their teen is learning in driver’s education, including giving them hours of practice behind the wheel, having them sign a new driver contract, and modeling good driving behavior themselves.”

“Driving is a privilege and a serious responsibility, with high stakes for everyone concerned, including teen drivers, their families, and other drivers out on the roads,” said Secretary of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security Daniel Bennett. “We all have an interest and an obligation to remind teen drivers of the responsibilities associated with the privilege of driving and encourage them to adopt safe behavior such as wearing a seat belt, observing speed limits and limiting distractions.”

The 10-minute video outlines the major causes of teen driving crashes:

  • Inexperience (Massachusetts law requires a minimum of 40 hours of supervised, behind-the-wheel experience with a parent or guardian),
  • Tailgating other vehicles,
  • Speeding,
  • Distraction, especially from electronic devices, and,
  • Impairment from alcohol and drug use.

The parents of Adam London appear in the video. Adam, a teen driver, was not wearing a seatbelt when he was killed in a crash where speed and alcohol were also factors.

Funding for the video was provided by the EOPSS Office of Grants and Research Highway Safety Division and from the Ford Driving Skills for Life program.

Massachusetts data:

  • In 2015, 15 drivers between the ages 16-20 died on Massachusetts roads.
  • Massachusetts law requires that parents drive with their teens for 40 hours before they become licensed.  Studies show that it takes hundreds of hours of time behind the wheel before teens are truly proficient.  Drivers from 16 to 20 years of age represent 6.4 percent of drivers, but 11.4 percent of fatalities.
  • Data shows that having two or more teen passengers per vehicle more than triples the risk of a fatal crash
  • Male teen drivers were almost six times more likely to perform an illegal maneuver and twice more likely to act aggressively before crashing than when driving alone.
  • A study by AAA found that distraction was a factor in nearly 6 out of 10 moderate-to-severe teen crashes.
  • The 2013 Massachusetts Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) found that 18.4% of high school students have ridden with a driver who had been drinking alcohol (down from 23% in 2011).

Massachusetts Teen Driving Law:

  • Teen drivers are required to wear a seat belt when driving. Fines begin at $25 per violation.
  • Teen drivers under 18 are prohibited entirely from using mobile phones and other electronic devices while driving, including to make phone calls. Fines begin at $100 and go as high as $500.  Teen drivers can also lose their license for as much as one year.
  • The Passenger Restriction prevents teen drivers from carrying passengers under the age of 18 (except for siblings) during the first six months that the driver has his/her license.
  • The Night Restriction prevents a teen driver from driving between 12:30 am and 5:00 am, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

Tips for Parents and Caregivers:

  • Provide ample supervised time on the road for teen drivers. Let them drive with you in all conditions and all types of roads to give them the experience they need.
  • Consider a contract between you and your new driver outlining your safe driving requirements. A sample contract can be downloaded from the RMV’s website:
  • Insist that your child and any passengers wear a seatbelt on every trip.
  • Consider banning, or limiting the number of, passengers for the first year after your teen gets his/her license (current MA law bans teen drivers from having a passenger other than a sibling for the first 6 months). Passengers, especially if loud and rowdy, are a major distraction for new drivers.
  • Require your teen to put any mobile device out of reach in the vehicle.
  • Do not text or call your teen when you know he/she is likely to be driving. Ask other family members to refrain from calling or texting them, as well.
  • Talk with your teen about the dangers of drinking and driving, specifically the effects alcohol or drugs have on his/her judgement and ability to drive safely.
  • Impose a curfew that gets your teen home at a reasonable hour.  Massachusetts law restricts junior operators from driving between 12:30 am and 5:00 am, unless accompanied by a parent or guardian.

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