Patrick Administration Promotes Teen Safe Driver Week With RMV High School Safety Check-points
(Boston, MA) Governor Deval Patrick has proclaimed October 15-20, "Teen Safe Driver Week" in Massachusetts, joining a nationwide effort to combat teen driver fatalities and crashes. In response, RMV inspectors teamed with the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security's Highway Safety Division and local police this week to launch "Operation ETC-Every Teen Counts" at ten high schools from Milton to Plymouth.
Teams of inspectors and police officers set up unannounced safety check-points in the school's parking lots to find out if junior operators were complying with new graduated license requirements that prohibit peer passengers and impose a night-time curfew. They also noted if drivers and passengers were wearing seat belts.
"Although Operation Every Teen Counts had all the earmarks of a sting, we wanted to catch teenagers being good," said Registrar Anne L. Collins. "We rewarded those who we found in compliance with the law and at the same time drove home the message that crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers."
Out of 802 junior operators who went through the check-points, 598 passed the safety inspection and were rewarded with coupons for pizza, key chains and other goodies. Six percent (49) of the teen drivers received warnings for violating the JOL passenger restriction. First time offenders of this new teen driver requirement are now subject to a mandatory 60-day license suspension and a $100 reinstatement fee.
Check-point teams also found that four teen drivers were talking on cell phones and 19 percent (151) of those inspected were not wearing seat belts.
"Teens need to learn a lot about safe driving in a short amount of time, because the consequences of poor driving are so high for them," said Sheila Burgess, Highway Safety Director for the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security. "Operation Every Teen Counts lets them know that so many different people are working together to get them to buckle-up and be focused and responsible behind the wheel."
Members of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) also took part in the pro-active educational campaign. Students at over 600 high schools across the state conducted on camera or voice-over skits during homeroom announcements that detailed the consequences of violating the Commonwealth's tough new Junior Operator Law.
"The new Junior Operator Laws are so important because we know that policy and enforcement are a huge piece of the puzzle in keeping teenagers safe from any risk behavior," said Julie Cushing, SADD State Coordinator. "These tougher regulations give us a real shot at increasing safety belt usage among teens. However, we know that teens buckle up when their parents do, so it's imperative that parents model safe driving habits."
In Massachusetts, one third of drivers will be involved in a crash during the first year they are licensed. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 42 Massachusetts drivers between the ages of 15 and 20 were killed behind the wheel in 2005.
Registrar Collins called the results a clear indication that teenage drivers are starting to get the message that risk-taking behavior increases the odds of a tragic crash and the Commonwealth is serious in cracking down on dangerous driving.
"Our citation statistics, which show a significant drop in speeding and drag-racing violations, tell us teen drivers are starting to slow down and take fewer risks, and we are very encouraged that parents are more engaged in their child's driver education," said Registrar Collins. "But even if it comes down to saving one child's life, we can never let our guard down in promoting and enforcing the Commonwealth's safety laws."
Participating High Schools
- Braintree High School
- Carver High School
- Hingham High School
- Kingston-Silver Lake Regional High School
- Marshfield High School
- Milton High School
- Plymouth North High School
- Plymouth South High School
- Westwood High School
- Weymouth High School