Back to School Safety Tips for Teen Drivers
Whether we like it or not, summer is nearly over and fall is on the horizon. Although autumn is an especially beautiful season in Massachusetts, it also brings with it a return to the classroom for millions of high school and college students across our state, which means that tens of thousands of young, inexperienced drivers will be returning to our roadways with regularity very soon.
This influx of traffic makes it all the more important for each and every one of us to exhibit safe and responsible driving behaviors, especially teenagers and other young drivers. If you are one of these students, there are certain safe driving habits you should be exercising every time you get behind the wheel. If you are the parent of a young driver, it’s important that you continue to remind your child of safe driving techniques ― both through your words and by setting a positive example.
To help students and other young drivers get back in the swing of learning and applying that knowledge in a practical sense, let’s review a few safe driving tips.
Tip #1: Buckle Up
In Massachusetts, all drivers and passengers are required to wear a seatbelt at all times (with a few very specific exceptions: vehicles manufactured before 1966, proof of a specific disability or medical condition, postal workers, etc.), so properly adjusting and bucking your seatbelt should be the very first order of business each and every time you get behind the wheel. If you are borrowing the vehicle from a parent, sibling, or friend, make sure that the seat positioning promotes easy access to the pedals, steering wheel, and shifter and that it allows for your seatbelt to rest comfortably across your chest and lap without restriction.
If there are passengers in the vehicle, be sure that they have done the same before turning on the ignition. As a driver, friend, and responsible adult, you are accountable for their well-being while they are riding in the vehicle with you.
Tip #2: Stay on Task
In January of 2016, the Massachusetts Senate passed Bill S.2093 banning the use of hand-held devices while driving. This includes making a phone call, texting, or inputting an address into a GPS system ― any activity that requires the driver to physically interact with their device to achieve their desired result. First offenders face a $100 fine, $250 for a second offense, and $500 for a third.
More than any fines or penalties, though, distracted driving puts you, your passengers, and other motorists at great risk. Too many people have died because they weren’t focusing on the task at hand: driving. It’s not worth it to send a text or post a status update. If you must use your phone to make an emergency call or get directions, pull the vehicle over to do what you need to do and then, if anything, use hands-free technology to communicate or to get where you need to go.
Tip #3: Slow Down
All of us have a tendency to exceed the speed limit from time to time, but this can be an especially dangerous practice for young drivers who aren’t used to potentially dangerous variables, such as the erratic flow of traffic, inclement weather conditions, other hazardous drivers, and/or the limitations and capabilities of their vehicles. On average, teenagers are also more prone to exercising poor judgment, driving impulsively, and running late to work or class, which means that they are also more likely to speed excessively, especially when they are racing the clock.
Remember, a lecture from your teacher or your boss for being five minutes late isn’t nearly as bad as waking up in a hospital bed, or worse ― not waking up at all. So don’t speed, and only pass other vehicles when you are absolutely sure that it is safe to do so.
Tip #4: Establish Some Ground Rules
Massachusetts laws aren’t the only guidelines that young drivers should be following. Parents should sit down with their children to establish ground rules regarding when and where they are allowed to drive, in what vehicle, and with which passengers. The numbers show that beginner drivers with three or more passengers in the vehicle are nearly four times as likely to be involved in a fatal accident than they are when driving alone, so knowing more about your child’s driving patterns could have a very real impact on their safety.
Let your young drivers living in the household know that if it is snowing, they are not allowed to drive until the roads have been salted and cleared. If it is after dark, whatever errand they have to run will have to wait until the morning. If their friend has been cited for a drug- or alcohol-related offense, they are not allowed in the vehicle. Some of these might seem like no-brainers, but teenagers with a license might not consider the overwhelming responsibility of driving a car until you actually communicate the importance of safe driving to them, along with the consequences for disobeying the law, your personal rules, and basic common sense.
The Law Offices of George A. Malliaros — Helping Car Accident Victims
Even when you follow all of these crucial safety tips, there’s no accounting for the carelessness of other drivers. We hope your or your child’s return to academics is safe and worry-free, but if you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle accident, please contact the Law Offices of George A. Malliaros today by calling (978) 452-6641 or by completing this brief contact form to receive a free consultation. Our contingent fee policy ensures that you will not pay any fees or expenses unless and until we are able to resolve your claim successfully. However, please bear in mind that statutes of limitations do apply, so please contact us at your earliest convenience so we can begin work toward resolving your legal issues as soon as possible.