Patrick-Murray Administration Delivers Safety Message to Teen Drivers
MassDOT and Local Police Team up for Operation Graduation
(Boston, MA) - MassDOT Registry of Motor Vehicle inspectors and local police surprised teenage drivers in 60 communities during a recent state-wide educational sting designed to encourage safe driving during the prom and graduation season. Dubbed "Operation Graduation," enforcement teams set up unannounced safety checks at high schools to reward teen drivers who were in compliance with junior operator mandates. The states graduated license law is being credited for a 75% drop in teen driver deaths since the law took effect three years ago.
"Although our statistics show that fewer teenagers are involved in fatal crashes, as part of Governor Patrick's commitment to safer roads, we want to ensure all beginner drivers make good choices about celebrating after the prom or graduation ceremony," said Registrar Rachel Kaprielian who was part of the undercover team at Milton High School. "This is a positive outreach campaign that also drives home the consequences of violating junior operator laws and driving recklessly."
Vehicle crashes are still the number one cause of death among teenagers. Statistics show that one third of Massachusetts drivers will be involved in a traffic crash during the first year they are licensed.
In the three years the new zero-tolerant penalties against junior operators took effect, traffic fatalities in this age group fell 75% percent and they received 52% fewer speeding tickets. Still, last year, two junior operators died in crashes during May and June.
Preliminary reporting on the sting operation showed 82% of the 9740 teen drivers who were stopped by the check-points passed the safety inspection and were rewarded with key chains, pens and other handouts. 189 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 three years ago, are now subject to a mandatory 60-day license suspension and a $100 reinstatement fee.
Check-point teams also found that 16% (1550) 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 comprise the largest group of drivers who are still not buckling up.
This is the fourth year the RMV has conducted educational safety checks at Massachusetts high schools.
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Operation Graduation Results