Teen Driving Safety: Time for a Conversation with Your Teen
National Teen Driver Safety Week is observed from October 14 to October 20. Parents, please take this opportunity to talk to your teenagers about safe driving choices. Car accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the U.S. As new drivers, teenagers are most likely to make mistakes on the road and cause car accidents. You can help prevent an accident by talking to them regularly and making sure they understand their responsibility behind the wheel.
A few important points:
Understand the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law. The Massachusetts Junior Operator Law prohibits junior operators (those 16 1/2 to 18 years old) from carrying passengers under 18 during their first six months of holding a license. Brothers and sisters can ride with junior operators regardless of age. Junior operators cannot travel between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m. They also cannot use cell phones behind the wheel. This includes both texting while driving and hand-held cell phone use. For the first violation, teens face a 60-day license suspension.
Wear a Seat Belt. Too many teen drivers get in the car without buckling up. This has to be the first rule of safety for all drivers.
Avoid Distractions. After you talk to your teenager about not using their cell phone in the car, ask them where they plan to keep it while they drive and how they will handle various situations. A good strategy is to turn the cell phone off and put it in the back seat or trunk. If it is in the truck, your teenager cannot use the phone or be stopped by a cop for using it.
But there are many other distractions. Food and beverages can take a driver's attention off the road. The act of lifting a beverage to take a sip can cause a driver to veer out of their lane. Conversation and music can also be distracting, which is why it is smart to limit the number of passengers your teenager can have in the car.
No Speeding. The state of Massachusetts may have given your teen a license, but they are still learning. Drive with them once in a while so you can see if they tend to speed. By lowering their speed, they will reduce their risk for car accidents significantly. They will have more time to observe and respond to road conditions, other cars, bicyclists and pedestrians. Another way to help is when you are driving, casually comment on the speed you are traveling. For example, "I always try to lower my speed to 20 mph here because the school zone is just ahead" or "This neighborhood has a 30 mph speed limit, but I make a point to travel 25 mph because there are always children riding bikes on the street."
Check Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Nov. 4 is when we turn back the clocks. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we suggest replacing the batteries in your home's smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Test the devices and replace them if needed.
Smoke alarm and carbon monoxide alarm requirements can be confusing. Many of us know they are required by Massachusetts law. The first thing to know is that both smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are required on every habitable level of a home or dwelling unit. Second, you can purchase single units or dual smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
To learn more, visit our blog.
Breakstone, White & Gluck is a Boston law firm specializing in personal injury, medical malpractice and car accident cases. Visit our Practice Areas page to learn more about us.