Traffic Safety - May


YOUNG DRIVERS

Young drivers will always be a point of concern for the general public and subsequently for law enforcement. According to the National Center for Health statistics, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-20 year olds. With the arrival of Prom season and with graduation parties fast approaching, parents are increasingly aware of the media coverage of horrific crashes involving young people.

For the most part, young drivers lack experience, and as a result their responses to emergency situations can be disastrous. Having friends along in the vehicle only compounds the problem by adding distractions. The addition of a friend in the car makes it 1Ĺ times as likely that the teen driver will be involved in a fatal crash and more passengers just create more distractions. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that driver distractions cause up to 25 percent of crashes reported to police.

Cell phone use is also a major contributing factor in motor vehicle crashes. A study conducted by the University of Utah found that drivers who talk on cell phones could be just as dangerous as drivers impaired by alcohol (at the legal level of impairment). In addition, the Washington Safety Commission conducted a survey into cell phone use by teen drivers and found that 64 percent talked on a cell phone while driving while 24 percent were text messaging while driving.

About 100,00 crashes each year are attributed to driving while drowsy, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Drivers under the age of 25 account for about 55 percent of these crashes. Studies by the Sleep Foundation found that nine percent of high school seniors admit to falling asleep behind the wheel during the last year.

One of the best ways for adults to influence the safety of young drivers is by being a good role model. Always wear your safety belt, donít use the cell phone while driving, and never be an aggressive driver. A study conducted by Liberty Mutual and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) has found that parents that set clear guidelines and establish real consequences significantly reduce the odds of their teen indulging in dangerous driving behaviors. Their recommendations include: know the Junior Operator Laws, discuss driving and driving behavior as early as 13 or 14, and stay with the program, donít relent. Family rules should include no friends in the car without an adult, no driving after 10 PM, no alcohol or drugs, and no distractions while driving (eating, brushing/combing hair, cell phones etc.). Most parents will find it difficult to closely supervise the passengers in their young driverís car, and even more difficult to prevent their child from being a passenger in another young driverís car, but networking with other parents may make this easier. None of this will be painless; however keep the goal in mind Ė their safety.

A Brief overview of the Junior Operator License Restrictions:

  • No passengers during the first six months of licensure, other than an immediate family member, unless accompanied by a licensed person over 21 in the front passenger seat. License suspension for violation of this requirement is 60 days for a first offense, 180 days for a second offense and one year for any subsequent offense.
  • Junior Operator may not operate a vehicle between 12:30 AM and 5:00 AM without a parent/guardian. License suspensions for violations of this requirement are the same as above. Operating during these times would be considered unlicensed, and the fine could be $100 to $1000.
  • Negligent or reckless operation can result in a suspension of up to 180 days for a first offense.
  • A first offense for speeding can result in a 90 day suspension, plus the usual fines, plus completion of SCARR (State Courts Against Road Rage) program, plus completion of an attitudinal retraining course. Second and subsequent offenses have a one-year suspension along with the other requirements. License reinstatement fee is $500, plus a 2nd road test.

More information is available at www.mass.gov/rmv (Registry of Motor Vehicles)

 

The Malden Police Department disclaims all responsibility for accuracy and completeness, or errors and omissions of the information contained herein. Although the Department tries to assure the accuracy of all information presented, you should confirm all information before making any decisions based on it.

Copyright © 2007 "Malden Police Department". All rights reserved.
Wednesday, 12 May 2010 05:58 PM