BWG Consumer Alert: October 2012

Good Time to Talk About Teen Driving Safety
National Teen Driver Safety Week, which takes place from October 14 - October 20, is a good time for parents and teenagers to talk about driving safety.

Teen Driving Safety Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Common causes are inexperience, failure to wear a seat belt, drinking and driving, speeding and distraction. Even if you have already had a conversation in the past, we encourage parents to speak to their teens about preventing car accidents and include these points:

Understand the law. The Massachusetts Junior Operator Law places restrictions on drivers from traveling with passengers under 18 during their first six months of holding a license. The lone exception is for siblings. Junior operators are also forbidden from driving between the hours of 12:30 a.m. and 5:00 a.m.

Wear a seat belt. This reminder is always important. Teenage drivers and their passengers have some of the lowest rates of seat belt use, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

No talking or texting on the cell phone. Texting while driving is illegal for any person driving in Massachusetts, and using a cell phone while driving is against the law in Massachusetts for drivers under 18. Teens face steep penalties for violations of either law. For first offenses, they face a 60-day license suspension and other sanctions. Suggest your teen put their cell phone out of sight or in the back seat when driving.
Limit food and beverage consumption. Eating while driving is very distracting. Ask your teen not to eat and to limit beverage consumption while driving. Suggest they eat before leaving home or at another safe place.
Limit driving with other teens. Conversation can be distracting for any driver, especially teens who may be excited about enjoying freedom of the road without an adult.
Avoid loud music. Music of any volume can be a distraction while driving, but loud music and adjusting the radio controls can be especially hazardous for teenage drivers.
No grooming. Remind teens they cannot focus on the road while grooming.
No speeding. Remind teen drivers to watch the speed limit, especially in school zones where they may encounter young children.
And here are some other things you can do:
Drive with your teen. Sit in the passenger seat with your teenager once in a while and observe how they handle basic driving tasks, such as stop lights, passing other cars, keeping a safe distance on the highway, and changing lanes.

Additional Resources

Turn Your Clocks Back and Check Smoke Alarms, Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Nov. 4 is when we turn back the clocks, the usual sad good-bye to another summer and fall. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we suggest taking a few of the extra minutes you gained to replace the batteries in your home's smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. Check whether the devices are working properly and replace them if needed.

Smoke Alarms
Smoke Alarms Massachusetts requires a smoke alarm be installed on every habitable level of a residence as well as on the basement floor. The law requires two types of smoke alarms: photoelectric and ionization. Only photoelectric smoke detectors are to be installed within 20 feet of kitchens and bathrooms with showers. Ionization alarms are more sensitive and more likely to be disabled in these areas. Outside the 20-foot zone, both photoelectric and ionization alarms are required.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors
Carbon monoxide is a colorless, odorless, tasteless gas which can emerge without any warning. In a home, it could be caused by a gas leak in a furnace or other appliance. Early symptoms may include headache and dizziness, though inhalation can quickly lead to seizures, comas and death.

In Massachusetts, residences are required to have working carbon monoxide alarms on every habitable level of the home or dwelling unit. You can purchase an individual carbon monoxide detector or a dual smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detector.

If you have questions, your local fire department is a good resource for information, along with the manufacturer of your devices.

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.
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