RMV Drives Home Safety Message with "Operation Graduation"
(Boston, MA) - RMV inspectors and local police surprised teenage drivers at 33 high schools today during a state-wide effort to get them to drive safer during the prom and graduation season. Dubbed "Operation Graduation", enforcement teams set up unannounced safety checks to reward teen drivers who were in compliance with the state's junior operator and safety belt laws and warn those in violation about the consequences.
"This is a positive outreach campaign to remind teenage drivers to make good choices as they celebrate the end of their time in high school," said Registrar Rachel Kaprielian. "The consequences of violating junior operator laws, driving recklessly and getting into a car crash can follow these youngsters for the rest of their lives."
Last year, three junior operators were involved in crashes in which four people died during May and June. In 2007, four teenagers, three of them drivers, were killed during the prom/graduation season. Other statistics show that one third of Massachusetts drivers will be involved in a traffic crash during the first year they are licensed.
Members of SADD, (Students Against Destructive Decisions) also joined in the educational campaign. "Operation Graduation is a wonderful opportunity to support and promote the junior operating laws and remind people to employ safe driving practices," said Julie Nussbaum, a Youth Program Director for SADD.
Preliminary reporting results showed 86% of the 4,457 teen drivers who were stopped by the check-points passed the safety inspection and were rewarded with key chains, pens and other goodies. Fifty-four junior operators violated the JOL passenger restriction and received verbal warnings and information on citations and fines. First-time offenders of this JOL requirement, which went into effect two years ago, are now subject to a mandatory 60-day license suspension and a $100 reinstatement fee.
Check-point teams also found that 14% (673) 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 crashes and speeding citations has dropped, but junior operators are still not buckling up.
"I think it's clear that belt use is a major issue in Massachusetts," said Kathleen Collins, a Whitman-Hanson Regional High School junior and SADD member. "The latest stats show that Massachusetts now has the lowest belt use in the country at 67%. Like all teens, I care about my friends and my family and I want to keep them safe. Teens have the ability to be a part of the solution and we also have a duty to address the issue of belt use in MA. I'm excited to continue to encourage my friends, other youth, and adults around the state to buckle up."
This is the third year the RMV has conducted educational safety checks at Massachusetts high schools.
Operation Graduation Results