Parent-teen contracts are the focus as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration observes Teen Driver Safety Week Oct. 17-24.
It’s been well documented that teen drivers face more risks on the road than other drivers. Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teens. Teen drivers are involved in three times as many fatal crashes each year as all other drivers.
Safety officials are pushing a number of efforts this Teen Driver Safety Week, including parent-teen contracts, stronger junior operator laws, improving use of seat belts and reducing teen access to alcohol.
Parent Teen Contracts
The parent-teen contracts are available from insurance companies, auto club AAA and government offices. They cover areas such as seat belt use, passengers allowed in the car, alcohol and nighttime driving. While the contracts may offer teens an insurance discount, many advocates see them as a way to involve parents. The Center for Disease Control is stressing parent involvement with its “Parents are the Key” education campaign launched this week.
Junior Operator Law
Attention is also on junior operator laws this week. Massachusetts adopted its Junior Operater Law on January 3, 2007. The law banned teens from driving between 12:30 a.m. and 5 a.m., implemented a passenger restriction and instituted harsh penalties for speeding, drag-racing and negligent operation.
The law was strengthened in September 2010, when Massachusetts teen drivers were banned from using cell phones and other mobile electronic devices.
Seat belts are important for every driver and passenger. But this point needs to be stressed to teens. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, teen drivers and their passengers are the least likely to wear safety belt – yet the most likely to be involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Reducing Teen Access to Alcohol
The consequences can be deadly when teens mix alcohol with driving. Among 15- to 20-year-old drivers involved in fatal motor vehicle accidents in 2006, 31 percent of the drivers had been drinking and weren’t wearing a seat belt.
For more information on the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law, click here.