Teach Your Teen Distracted Driving Dangers
Teen distracted driving has become the number one cause of car accidents due to the increased use of mobile devices and other technology across the United States, and Cape Cod is no exception. As parents in bustling Cape Cod towns like Barnstable, Hyannis, Falmouth or all the other hotspots along 6A to Provincetown, it is our responsibility to guide our young drivers and educate them on the dangers of multi-tasking while operating any type of motor vehicle.
Even as adults, many of us can see the habitual nature of devices like tablets and smartphones and may possibly be guilty of an occasional peek while behind the wheel. Now consider these sixteen and seventeen-year-old junior operators who have likely been associated with this technology for more than half of their lives. For them it may take quite a bit of self-control to pry the device from their hand for just a short drive or a quick walk as a pedestrian.
Massachusetts Laws Regarding Junior Operator Device Use
Back in 2010 Massachusetts legislators enacted An Act Relative to Safe Driving. This law prohibits mobile phone usage by drivers under the age of 18, except in the case of reporting an emergency.
The penalties for breaking this law as stated by the 190th General Court of The Commonwealth of Massachusetts:
“A junior operator who violates…shall be punished by a fine of $100 and shall have his license or permit suspended for 60 days for a first offense and shall not be eligible for license reinstatement until he also completes a program selected by the registrar that encourages attitudinal changes in young drivers; for a second offense by a fine of $250 and shall have his license or permit suspended for 180 days; and for a third or subsequent offense by a fine of $500 and shall have his license or permit suspended for 1 year.”
While this law serves as a deterrent for potential teen distracted drivers, laws can be and are all too often broken. This is why the bulk of the responsibility to guide these new drivers falls on the parents and guardians.
Tips for Teaching Your Teen About Distracted Driving
Though the laws in Massachusetts may help to curb teen distracted driving by our junior operators, we all know that teenagers don’t always take rules seriously. The guidance that we offer today will likely benefit them far beyond their junior operator years and make one less distracted driver on the road. Here are some tips:
Beyond teaching teens about the importance of obeying the laws of the Commonwealth on mobile use, educate them on the many other types of distracted driving habits to avoid. Consuming food and drink, applying make-up, tinkering with the aux cord on the radio, setting a GPS on the fly or worse yet, vaping, these are all forms of distraction and should be avoided completely while driving to prevent car accidents that could be debilitating or fatal.
Lead by Example
For 18+ drivers, texting while driving is illegal in Massachusetts, however hand-held phone use is still legal. Make sure to use your smartphone responsibly in general, but especially when you are in front of those who may look up to you. Seeing an adult behave a certain way may be enough justification to bend the rules for themselves in the future. Preaching till your blue in the face has merit. It may seem insignificant but that one lecture may just be the one they obey that brings all home to safety.
There are Apps for That
If your teen driver doesn’t have the self-control to avoid these distractions, there are apps such as LifeSaver and Drive Mode to block calls and texts while driving. Some of these apps will even send notifications to the parent or guardian when unsafe driving is detected. It may seem unfortunate to rely on an app to deter distracted driving, but it’s a reality in this ever-changing age of technology, and perhaps one solution that may keep your kids and everyone on the road safe.
Advocates for the Cape Cod Driving Community
For decades Paul and Steven Aiken, Cape Cod Personal Injury Attorneys at Aiken & Aiken P.C. have been educating clients’ on the critical importance of having the right type and correct amount of auto insurance. Because they meet with people after an accident happens, they know all too well what little recourse there is when there isn’t enough insurance coverage.
The Law Offices of Aiken & Aiken, P.C. will always extend a Free Consultation to review individual auto policies and answer questions. It is Paul and Steven Aiken’s hope that drivers, and especially teen drivers, referred will be prepared in the unfortunate event where a car crash leaves people hurt, possibly out of work or may even change the course of their lives forever. He will explain the facts about proper coverage – that you should have as much insurance as you can afford. He’ll go on to detail additional coverages available, for literally pennies on the dollar, that ‘protect the people in the car’, not just the vehicle. (insert link to distracted driving video).
This preventative measure is a genuine benefit to the public and entirely objective because these attorneys don’t sell the insurance policy, they uphold the law to enforce it. Having more than the minimum state required insurance coverage limits, there’s a fighting chance. Paul will tell his clients about an accident that left a young man of only 19 years old not only paraplegic for the rest of his life but with no recourse because neither he, or the other vehicle in the accident had enough insurance. When it comes to buying insurance Paul Aiken states, “this is about saving lives, not saving assets. A car can be repaired or replaced. A loved one, not so much.”
For this reason and to spread the word outside the law office, Attorneys Paul and Steven Aiken are frequent speakers at Professional Driving School. This premier Cape Cod driving school is located at 5 Mark Lane in Hyannis just off West Main Street, which is about half way between the Hyannis west end rotary (where you’ll find a Subway restaurant, the infamous Melody Tent and the Hyannis Resort & Conference Center) and Barnstable High School (across from Dunkin Donuts and Cape Cod Broadcasting & Media). Every month, usually the last Monday of the month driving school owner, Mike Hanlon, leads a two-hour parent class. This is state mandated in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and at least one parent or guardian from a household is required by law to attend the class in order for their student to complete driving school requirements and ultimately pass the test to obtain their junior operator’s license (JOL).
In this class Mr. Hanlon reviews what the students learned in their driving class instruction, current rules and regulations, pitfalls and perils of distracted driving and a host of other invaluable topics to refresh the mindset on driving in a totally different era from one in which the parent’s learned to drive. To offer various perspectives, Mr. Hanlon invites special guests, such as Attorneys Paul and Steven Aiken, who educate parents about the law as it relates to injury and accidents and, what can be done to prevent or prepare for the worst unexpected scenarios. Other guests may include a local police officer, prior students who have experienced loss of license, or worse, parents who have lost their children to drunk driving or some other horrendous situation. Most parents dread the two-hour class upon arrival, but quickly retract that perception as soon as Attorney Aiken finishes his valuable, eye-opening presentation before turning it over to the always entertaining Mike Hanlon.
The Drivers of The Future
We here at The Law Offices of Aiken & Aiken, PC are dedicated to educating young drivers on Cape Cod. It can’t be overstated that the guidance that we give the junior drivers of today will help to make the roads of the future safe.