Teen Driver Safety Week is Oct. 18-24, 2020. Breakstone, White & Gluck is sharing articles to encourage parents and teens to discuss safe driving decisions.
Seat belts are a simple step for safety. As a parent, you probably remind your child to buckle their seat belt before each ride. But when your teen becomes a licensed driver, you won’t always be there. Still, what you say matters. Teens are twice as likely to wear a seat belt as a driver or passenger when parents set rules and monitor their driving behavior, according to the Teen Driver Source website, which is operated by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Tell your teen you expect them to wear a seat belt whenever they travel in a motor vehicle. This includes when they drive and when they are traveling as a passenger. As a second step, put this in writing. Find a teen driving safety agreement with your teen and state this is one of your expectations. If you catch your teen driving without their seat belt, you can step back their access to the keys until you have a discussion.
Seat belts are required by law. Wearing a seat belt is required by law in Massachusetts. Drivers and their passengers must both wear seat belts.
Seat belts protect against deadly force. The goal isn’t to scare your teen. But the reality is cars, trucks and other vehicles are heavy and powerful machinery. We all need to wear seat belts to protect against the potential force of a car crash.
Seat belts reduce the risk of fatal injury to front seat passengers by 45 percent, according to Teen Driver Source. They also reduce the risk of moderate to critical injury by 50 percent.
Seat belts also reduce the risk of ejection from the vehicle. Those who do not wear seat belts are 30 times more likely to be ejected from a vehicle during a traffic crash, according to Teen Driver Source. When a person is ejected from their vehicle, they are more likely to die in a crash. This was the case for 3 out of 4 people.
How seat belts prevent injuries. Seat belts are designed to spread crash forces across the stronger bony parts of the body, including the shoulders, rib cage and pelvis, according to the Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). They are also designed to prevent occupants from being ejected from a vehicle.
Drivers and passengers should all wear seat belts – to protect themselves and each other. If there is an accident and one of the vehicle’s occupants is not wearing one, they could be ejected and increase the risk of injury to others in the vehicle.
In a frontal crash, drivers and front passengers are left at an increased risk for injury if the back-seat passengers are not wearing seat belts. Exposure to unbelted occupants increases the risk of injury or death to other vehicles by 40 percent, according to the IIHS.
More People Are Wearing Seat Belts in Massachusetts
The good news is more people appear to be wearing seat belts in Massachusetts. In 2018, the state conducted a seat belt usage observation study, reporting 81.58 percent of drivers and front outboard passengers were observed to be wearing seat belts. This was 7.9 percentage points over the year before and the highest ever observed rate in Massachusetts.
To reach this number, the state observed 28,265 drivers and front outboard passengers in 24,2145 vehicles at 147 observation locations. You can learn more by reading the study.
According to the IIHS and other organizations, states with primary enforcement seat belt laws have higher seat belt use rates. In 2019, the IIHS reported states with primary enforcement laws saw 91 percent seat belt use compared to 86 percent. Massachusetts has a secondary enforcement seat belt law, meaning police can stop drivers for traffic violations, then issue citations for failure to wear seat belts. But police cannot stop drivers just because they are not wearing seat belts.
If you are parent or teen, we hope this is good background information. The point is you should wear your seat belt every time you ride – and encourage others to do the same.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Personal Injury Lawyers
With more than 100 years combined experience, Breakstone, White & Gluck fights for the rights of those injured by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. Our personal injury attorneys specialize in the handling of car accidents, truck accidents and bus collisions in the Boston area. If you have been injured, learn your legal rights. For a free legal consultation, call our attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.
To learn more about teen driving safety and other topics, please visit our Project KidSafe campaign page.
When drivers use cell phones, they introduce grave dangers to the road and are more likely to crash. This is why many states have now passed distracted driving laws. But how effective have these laws been?
Highly effective, suggests new research. Distracted driving laws are saving the lives of both teen drivers and their passengers in car crashes. The greatest impact is seen when states ban all drivers from cell phone use, not just junior operators under age 18.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital published the findings from a 10-year study in Pediatrics journal. Reviewing more than 38,000 motor vehicle crashes reported between 2007 and 2017, researchers found a significant decrease in fatal motor vehicle crashes among drivers age 16-19.
There was actually a 43 percent reduction in deaths among 16-year-old drivers in states which passed hand held cell phone bans for all drivers (not just a ban for junior operators under 18).
Researchers had the challenge of working with evolving cell phone laws. When the study began in 2007, just 15 states had passed one type of distracted driving law, often a texting while driving ban. By the end, researchers were reviewing the impact of multiple bans, including texting while driving bans (both primary and secondary), hand-held bans and bans on all types of cell phone use for drivers under age 18.
Distracted Driving In Massachusetts
Massachusetts distracted driving crashes are a serious concern, having caused the deaths of drivers as well as pedestrians and cyclists. Once drivers pick up a cell phone, it is hard to break their attention away. The younger the driver, the harder it can be and this makes it essential for teens to establish good habits from the start.
In Massachusetts, a high school student was the first to be criminally prosecuted for motor vehicle homicide, texting while driving and negligent operation of a motor vehicle, according to CNN. Police allege the 17-year-old Haverhill man exchanged nearly 200 text messages in the hours leading up to the fatal crash in 2011. The crash killed a 55-year-old New Hampshire driver and seriously injured his girlfriend, who was riding in his passenger seat. As the prosecutor said at sentencing, “there are no winners today.” He went onto say, “…in a split second, many lives are forever changed.”
The state of Massachusetts reported a 170 percent increase in distracted driving crashes between 2014 and 2016. Over the past few years, lawmakers and safety advocates negotiated proposals to pass a hands-free law or a ban on handheld cell phone use. This finally reached resolution in November 2019, taking effect in April.
Under the Massachusetts Hands-Free Law, drivers are no longer allowed to use hand-held cell phones. They must now use voice-activated technology. The goal is to reduce injuries by taking away the act of reaching for a phone and attempting to dial. However drivers must still use voice-activated cell phones cautiously. Drivers can still cause accidents when using voice-activated technology and can still be held liable if they cause someone’s injuries.
Teen drivers – Massachusetts junior operators under age 18 – are still not allowed to use hands-free cell phones under the new law.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Attorneys
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our attorneys fight for the rights of those injured by negligent driving in Boston and across Massachusetts. With more than 100 years combined experience, we have a reputation for strong results for victims of car accidents, truck crashes and bus collisions.
If you have been injured, call our attorneys for a free legal consultation: 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676 or use our contact form.
We know many Massachusetts parents regularly talk to their teens about safe driving to prevent car accidents. You should be commended for engaging in this often-stressful conversation.
We urge you to continue on this summer. Helping teens understand the difference between appropriate and unsafe choices and build strong driving skills is a life-long investment in their safety and the safety of others.
Nationwide, teen driving crashes killed more than seven people each day of summer from 2008 to 2018, according to AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. AAA recently released the 2020 “100 Deadliest Days” of driving report, once again warning teen drivers and parent to take extra precautions between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
Be aware of the unique risks this summer, AAA says. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many summer jobs and activities have been cancelled. With more free time, teens may be driving more. AAA urges parents to read its 2020 “100 Deadliest Days” report, and its Parent Coaching Guide, and to have teens sign a safe driving agreement. With this approach, parents can set clear expectations for teens and refer them to the agreement should they forget. If teens violate the terms of the agreement, they may lose driving privileges for a period of time.
Research on Teen Driving Crashes
Here are a few figures for parents to consider. AAA’s research found more than 70 percent of teen drivers age 16-18 had engaged in unsafe and illegal driving behaviors.
Seat belt Use
17 percent of teen drivers admitted to not wearing a seat belt.
47 percent of teen drivers admitted to driving 10 mph over the speed limit on a residential street.
40 percent of teen drivers admitted to driving 15 mph on a freeway.
Texting and Cell Phone Use
35 percent of teen drivers admitted to texting while driving.
Other Driving Violations
More than 30 percent of teen drivers admitted to running red lights and aggressive driving. Meanwhile, 25 percent of teen drivers admitted to drowsy driving.
Parents can influence teens on some of these behaviors by developing a teen driving agreement (there are several available on the Teen Driver Source website). Your conversations with your teens are also essential.
Help Your Teen Drive Safely
Help your teen drive safely and avoid a car crash.
Many states have graduated licensing laws, including Massachusetts. Encourage your teen to follow the Massachusetts Junior Operator Law at all times. Under this law, teens are not allowed to use cell phones when driving in Massachusetts, not even under the new Massachusetts “hands-free” driving laws.
When they have a question, encourage them to ask, review their driver’s education materials or the Massachusetts Driver’s Manual. When drivers understand the law, they are more confident making decisions on the road.
Another opportunity is to drive together. Take turns in the driver seat. When you drive, take the opportunity to show your teen how you follow the speed limit. On a 30 mph street, this means driving 30 mph or less, not 35 or 40 mph. Tell your teen what you are doing and why.
Speed-related crashes are prevalent among teens. Simply slowing down and following other vehicles at greater distances can make a tremendous impact in reducing car accidents. At slower speeds, your teen has more time to stop and if they have a collision, injuries are likely to be less severe. Accident victims are more likely to survive a teen driving accident.
At the same time, parents should understand that when teens speed, they may be intentionally speeding and risk-taking. This is unacceptable. But often, the reason is driver inexperience. Teens need more practice using the gas and brakes, and you may need to explain that traveling “just” 5 mph or 10 mph over the speed limit is dangerous. In fact, you may need to do this a few times, also explaining that teens are more likely to cause injury when they speed and receive a speeding ticket which will impact their junior license.
To help your teen, be patient. Your goal is to demonstrate safe driving techniques and give them feedback when they make a good decision or make a mistake. Yet, if you are too critical, you will make your teen nervous and reluctant to drive with you. Tread lightly but firmly. It’s alright to take a break, but don’t stop trying.
Free Legal Consultation – Boston Car Accident Lawyers
At Breakstone, White & Gluck, our Boston car accident attorneys represent those who have been injured by negligent driving in Massachusetts. Car accidents often result in serious and catastrophic injuries, including head injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, lacerations and death. When victims survive, they may require medical care, have to take time off from work and suffer other financial losses.
Always learn your legal rights after an injury. For a free legal consultation, call our car accident attorneys at 800-379-1244 or 617-723-7676. You can also use our contact form.