Patrick Administration Launches "Operation Graduation"
Enforcement Sting Delivers Safety Message to Teen Drivers
(Boston, MA) - If history holds true, three Massachusetts teenagers will be killed in car crashes before the high school prom and graduation season is over, but not if the Registry of Motor Vehicles and Boston and local police can help it. Today as part of a statewide effort to get teens to drive safer, RMV inspectors teamed with police officers in launching "Operation Graduation", a positive outreach campaign.
Enforcement teams set up surprise safety checks at 49 high schools across the state from Amherst to Lowell to Cape Cod. Their goal was to see if teen drivers were complying with tough new license requirements that prohibit carrying peer passengers during the first six months of their license. Teams also noted if drivers and passengers were wearing seat belts.
"This is one of the happiest times of the year for many high school seniors," said Registrar Anne L. Collins. "Unfortunately, it's also a time when teen drivers need to remember the tragic consequences of drunk driving and speeding. Every year since 2005, three Massachusetts teenagers, either the driver or a passenger, have died in crashes during this two month period between the prom and graduation."
Boston Police Superintendent Daniel Linskey said, "Operation Graduation enables law enforcement the ever important opportunity to remind teens of the need to maintain safe driving habits."
"Operation Graduation is an ideal opportunity to continue to educate Massachusetts teens on the importance of seat belt use, driving in a focused, sober, and well-rested manner, and complying with Junior Operator restrictions and all other traffic laws," said Sheila Burgess, Director of the Highway Safety Division of the Executive Office of Public Safety and Security.
Preliminary reporting results showed nearly three-quarters of the 6,246 teen drivers who were stopped by the check-points passed the safety inspection and were rewarded with coupons for pizza, key chains and other goodies. 119 junior operators violated the JOL passenger restriction and received verbal warnings and information about the new law. First-time offenders of this JOL requirement, which went into effect just over a year ago, are now subject to a mandatory 60-day license suspension and a $100 reinstatement fee.
Check-point teams also found that 76 teen drivers were talking on cell phones and 27% (1,493) of those inspected were not wearing seat belts. Statistics compiled since the new junior operator law took effect show that teens are driving safer, the number of fatal crashes and speeding citations has dropped, but junior operators are still not buckling up.
"This is a troubling, persistent trend that we need to address," said Registrar Collins. "I noticed today during Operation Graduation that many adults also weren't wearing their seat belts. We know teens pattern their parents so if we can get them to buckle-up, we believe more teens will follow this simple safety regulation."
Click here to see th list of participating high schools