GRAFTON, Mass. - October 14-20 has been designated as National Teen Driver Safety Week. This week serves to remind teens and parents about the dangers teen drivers face, and how to avoid them, when operating a motor vehicle on our roadways.
To help keep your teen driver safe, the Grafton Police Department would like to provide the following teen driver rules presented by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. More information on this and other traffic safety topics may be found at www.nhtsa.gov .
Rule # 1: Absolutely No Alcohol
- Teen drivers (ages 15-20) are at far greater risk of death in crashes where alcohol was present than the rest of us, even though they cannot legally purchase or possess alcohol.
- In 2007, almost one-third of teen drivers who were killed in crashes had a positive Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .01 or higher at the time of the crash, even though it is illegal in all states for anyone under the age of 21 to drive with any trace of alcohol in their system.
- On average over the last five years, one-fourth of the deaths in motor vehicle traffic crashes occurred when a teen driver had a BAC of .01 or higher.
- The consequences are grim. If your teenager is lucky enough to survive a crash, they will have to face the consequences of breaking the law. That includes a trip to jail, the loss of their driver’s license, and dozens of other expenses including attorney fees, court costs, and other fines. They will also stand to lose academic eligibility, college acceptance, scholarship awards, and more.
Rule # 2: Always Buckle Up!
- Teens buckle up far less frequently than adults do. The very first thing you can do is set the right example for your children by buckling yourself up every time you get in the car.
- When your teen is ready to drive, remind them that whether they are driving across town or just around the neighborhood, wearing seat belts is the absolute best way to protect themselves and their passengers from severe injury or even death in the event of a crash.
- Wearing a seat belt is free, but not wearing it could cost a life: Despite efforts aimed at increasing belt use among teens, observed seat belt use among teens and young adults (16 to 24 years old) stood at 76 percent in 2006 – the lowest of any age group.
Rule # 3: No Talking on the Cell Phone or Texting While Driving
- Youths and Cell Phones: Talking on a cell phone while driving slows down the reaction time of even the most experienced driver – making it the same as that of a 70-year-old*. Can you imagine the impact it will have on your teenager? Texting while driving is a serious risk for teen drivers as well, forcing them to take their eyes and at least one hand off the steering wheel.
- Distracted drivers can kill or be killed: Driving distractions like talking on a cell phone or texting while driving are an even greater threat for teens than for others.
- Talk to your teen drivers about the risks of talking, texting, and other distractions, and set clear expectations about driving habits.
Rule # 4: Have the Car in the Driveway by 10 p.m.
Youths and Nighttime Driving: Talk to your teen driver about when you expect them to have the car back in the driveway. The reason for setting a “home-by” rule is to protect your kids by keeping them from driving during the high-risk nighttime hours.
Rule # 5: No More Than One Passenger in the Car at all Times (Zero if the state’s GDL law doesn’t permit any)
- Youths and Passengers: Most teens are susceptible to peer pressure, which can lead to risk-taking. In a survey completed by the Allstate Foundation, almost half of the teens polled said they had been distracted by their passengers. Almost half also said they drive more safely without their friends in the car.
- The more, the scarier: Research shows that the risk of a fatal crash goes up in direct relation to the number of teenagers in the car.
Rule # 6: Graduated Driver’s License (Junior Operator’s License) - Follow the State Law
- Youths and Graduated Driver’s Licenses: Make sure you and your teenage driver know and understand the law, before they get behind the wheel.
- Young, inexperienced drivers, particularly 16- to 17-year-olds, die too often in fatal crashes, in large part because of immaturity and inexperience.
- Keep your child alive by insisting they follow the GDL or JOL rules.
Rule # 7: Set Your Own House Rules and Consequences
- Youths and You: Never forget that more than 5,000 teens (15 – 20 years old) are killed in crashes on our roadways every year. Talk to your young drivers about their driving before and after they have their permit or license. Set the rules for driving and explain the consequences of breaking the rules. In fact, your house rules can be tougher than the GDL or JOL laws, based on your assessment of your teen.
- Be accountable - make them accountable: Write up a contract if you want to spell it out. Sign it and have your teen driver sign. Remind them that driving is a privilege that can be easily revoked.
- You can have a contract with your teen without writing it down. Keep an open dialog with your young driver and make your rules and consequences crystal clear. Talk often and stick to your own rules.